Texas Longhorns basketball may have prevented its bubble from bursting on Saturday afternoon, as Shaka Smart’s team took down No. 23 Oklahoma 77-66 in Norman. It was the ‘Horns’ first win since beating Oklahoma in Austin on February 3, snapping a three game losing streak.
After a players only meeting following a disappointing home loss to Baylor, the ‘Horns came out with the edge. Texas never led by more than six in the first half but never fell behind either. The ‘Horns grabbed a quick 5-0 lead and never looked back, heading to the locker room up 32-29.
Texas didn’t exactly have a hot first half shooting the ball, but Oklahoma was ice cold. The Longhorns were 13-28 (4-12 3pt) shooting in the first frame, while the Sooners went 8-31 (4-15 3pt).
Eight players for the Burnt Orange scored in the first half, but Mo Bamba was the biggest difference maker. The freshman star notched six points, 11 rebounds, and had an impressive block on Young.
Have you heard of Trae Young? ESPN has. The likely Naismith player of the year was clearly frustrated in the first half, shooting only 1-7 and missing all three of his attempts from behind the arc. Young was still able to hit all seven of his first half free throws, but Texas’ suffocating defense played a major factor in holding the Sooners at bay.
The equalizer which kept Oklahoma in the game was turnovers. Texas turned the rock over nine times in the first half, compared to only four turnovers by Oklahoma. This sloppiness seemed to be the key reason the ‘Horns weren’t able to gain significant separation from their Red River foe.
The second half began very similarly to the first, asTexas continued to nurse a small lead. The ‘Horns began to rely on timely threes to stay ahead, as Dylan Osetowski knocked down two important treys and Kerwin Roach knocking down one of his own.
At about the midway point of the second half, Texas reached a game high seven point lead off of an impressive play. Osetowski blocked a corner three and saved it from going out of bounds, and Jacob Young finished with a lay up through traffic to give Texas the 51-44 edge.
Young — Jacob, not Trae — then jumped in front of a pass to earn his second steal of the game and get an easy lay up to extend the Texas lead to nine. An Osetowski lay up and two free throws by Eric Davis pushed the Texas lead to 13, as the ‘Horns went up 57-44.
The Sooners made some surges, but could never fully get back into the game largely because Bamba began to take over on the defensive end. On the day, Bamba swatted four OU shots, and also earned a career-high 17 total rebounds.
Texas also got some clutch production on offense. Kerwin Roach had a nice baseline drive late, and on the next position Matt Coleman followed with a baseline layup of his own to put Texas up 68-57.
The ‘Horns ultimately won 77-66 to move to 16-11 (6-8 Big 12) on the season. Before today, Oklahoma was 11-1 at home, so winning in Norman is no small feat for the ‘Horns. Oklahoma has now lost five straight, and sits at 16-10 (6-8 Big 12).
Saturday’s game has likely put Texas back on the right side of the bubble, though the ‘Horns still have a tough road ahead. Texas will travel to little Manhattan and take on Kansas State on Wednesday evening at 8 pm CST, in what will be another near must-win.