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Missouri defeats Oklahoma to clinch Big 8 title

It was Melvin Booker's worst game and Missouri barely skipped a beat.

Reserve Mark Atkins stepped in for Missouri's top player, tying his own school record with seven three-pointers Saturday as the sixth-ranked Tigers clinched the Big Eight title with a 99-83 victory over Oklahoma.

Booker leads Missouri with an 18.6-point average and is one of the top candidates for Big Eight Player of the Year. But he was in foul trouble most of the game and was held to 5 points, snapping a streak of 28 consecutive games in double figures.

"He's not there, and we're still going," coach Norm Stewart said. "This is a big plus. We know now that someone can come in for Booker."

Atkins scored a season-high 25 points, three more than in his previous five games combined.

"I love playing Oklahoma," said Atkins, who hit his first four three-pointers and was 7-for-11 overall. "They play up-and-down-the-court basketball. That's the kind of game I play."

Atkins also was 7-for-11 from three-point range in the first game against Oklahoma. Sooners coach Billy Tubbs couldn't help but notice.

"He's a great shooter, at least against us," Tubbs said.

The wide-open style also played well with Paul O'Liney, who scored 21 points _ 13 above his average _ in his first start. O'Liney, last year's junior college Player of the Year, had four three-pointers.

Missouri tied the school record with 13 three-pointers and set a record with 27 attempts.

Missouri (22-2, 12-0), which won its ninth Big Eight title under Stewart, needs victories over Kansas State and Nebraska to post the third unbeaten season in conference history. Kansas was the last to do it, in 1971.

Missouri has won 12 in a row and 21 of its past 22, and has beaten its past 16 Big Eight opponents. The Tigers had already clinched a tie for the league title, but needed a victory to take the outright championship after second-place Oklahoma State beat Iowa State 83-81.

Oklahoma (14-10, 5-7) has lost three straight games for the first time this season. Calvin Curry led the Sooners with 24 points, 19 in the second half.

Jeff Webster, who leads the conference with a 23.9 average, had four fouls in the first half and was held to 16. Pete Lewis and John Ontjes added 14 points apiece.

Three technicals were called on Oklahoma, one of them on Webster with 17.9 seconds left in the first half.

After Webster was called for a blocking foul and then argued the call, Lamont Frazier hit both ends of a 1-and-1 and Jason Sutherland then hit two shots on the technical to give Missouri a 53-45 halftime lead.