AUSTIN — Texas plugged into a hyped-up crowd to run down No. 12 Oklahoma in the second half Saturday, beating the Sooners 79-74 in a raucous – and full – Frank Erwin Center.
Trailing 40-35 at halftime while shooting just 40 percent from the field, the Longhorns blitzed the Sooners in the second half, outscoring Lon Kruger’s team 44-34 to earn the win. Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach led the second-half rush to push the Longhorns to a 15-8 overall record and a 5-5 Big 12 mark. The Sooners fell to 16-6 and 6-4.
Coleman was particularly assertive offensive in the second half, after scoring just five points in the first 20 minutes. He was six of eight in the second half from the field, made all four of his free throws and finished the game with a game-high 22 points.
Roach was effective and efficient in the second half as well, scoring 11 of his 19 points. He finished the game with 19 points. Dylan Osetkowski – who was three of 14 from the field – scored 15 points and Mo Bamba added 13 points to go along with nine rebounds on a day when ESPN College Gameday was in Austin.
“We didn’t have great energy early on,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said of the attending 15,533 fans. ” I’m proud of fact that they really found more and found enough to be within striking distance in the end.”
Being within striking distance was good, but the Longhorns converting 13 of 13 down the stretch was literally the difference in winning or losing. Texas finished the game 20 of 27 at the charity stripe; the Sooners went to the line just 11 times.
“It makes a big difference,” Smart understated, “because the scoreboard moves when they go in.”
The Sooners had a nine-point lead, 66-57, with 7:08 remaining when the Longhorns made their push. Roach hit a three, and Bamba and Roach each made two free throws, and with 6:02 remaining the lead had been cut to 66-64, and the crowd was smelling crimson blood at that point.
The Sooners went cold just as Texas warmed. Trae Young – the likely NCAA player of the year – made just seven of 22 shots from the field and was an abysmal two of 14 from the three-point stripe, finishing with 19 points. He distributed the ball beautifully throughout the game, however, with 14 assists. Teammate Janumi McNeace was lights out in the paint, hitting eight of 10 shots and scoring 16 points. OU’s Rashard Odomes finished with 15 points.
A pair of Osetkowski free throws tied the game at 66, and a Coleman layup made it 68-66 Longhorns with 4:58 left. Roach pushed it to 70-66 with 3:40 remaining after a pair of three-point tries from Young failed.
Osetkowski hit another pair of free throws with 2:48 to push the Texas lead to 72-68, and Coleman pushed it to 74-70 a minute later with two successful free throws. Bamba added two free throws with 50.9 left, putting Texas up 76-70, and dunked behind his head a few seconds later to send the crowd off, and give Texas a 78-70 lead. Texas led 79-70 with 25.6 seconds left and coasted the rest of the way.
To say slowing down Young was a priority for Texas would be a significant understatement.
“You have to be on high alert when he has the ball.” Roach said. “We did it as a team.”
Roach and Coleman – with the occasional Bamba on a switch – seemed to wear down the electric OU guard, who played the entire 40 minutes.
The first half reflected an Oklahoma team that was older, calmer, steadier than the Longhorns. And although Young didn’t go off scoring-wise (he scored just five points on two of nine shooting from the field), he finished the half with nine assists.
The Longhorns probably felt pretty fortunate to be down by five at halftime, considering their woeful numbers over the first 20 minutes. Texas shot a paltry 40 percent from the field, making just six of 15 shots from three-point range during that time.
“Obviously the game plan was to keep the ball out of Trae’s hands,” Bamba said. “We did our job by making it as tough as possible for him.”
Smart concurred, and also couldn’t stop gushing about the crowd.
“I think the crowd set a tone,” Smart said of his team, which has now won three straight games against Top 20 teams at home. “The crowd was phenomenal.”
Note: Halftime featured the honoring of Mack Brown (with 18 of his former players gathered around him) for being named to the College Football Hall of Fame. After he was honored, he took off his sweat shirt and revealed a Boom t-shirt, and asked everyone to send a message to Andrew Jones, the UT player who continues to treat and recover from Leukemia.