Same story, different night for Shaka Smart and the young Texas Longhorns, who fell short on the road to the Oklahoma Sooners Tuesday night 70-66.
After shooting out of the gates early with a 9-2 edge and owning the lead for all but one possession of the entire first half, Texas entered intermission with a 39-38 advantage, despite giving up 11 offensive rebounds and turning the ball over eight times. The ‘Horns then kicked off the final 20 minutes of action with an 8-1 run to push the lead to 47-39.
From that point, an Oklahoma team without its senior leader Jordan Woodard, whose college career is over due to an ACL injury suffered on Saturday against Iowa State, the Sooners surged for what became a 16-point turnaround for a 65-57 lead with under two minutes remaining. Per usual, the Longhorns scratched and clawed to the very end, but not much went Texas’ way in the second half and the result is Smart’s club remains winless on the road this season.
The on-court product was exactly what one may expect between a pair of teams that entered the matchup with a combined 18-31 record. Much of the night, it wasn’t pretty for either side, but throughout, the tremendous youthful potential was apparent on both sides.
Jamuni McNease led the way for Oklahoma with 14 points and 14 boards off the bench — his first career double double — as part of a performance where he outhustled Jarrett Allen on the block much of the night. Kameron McGusty and Rashard Odomes each added 11 points from the wings, as well, while Kristian Doolittle did his part offensively with nine points.
Despite shooting 4-21 from the perimeter collectively, Oklahoma converted 22-31 attempts at the charity stripe, which proved to be the difference in a four-point game that saw Texas miss 9-of-16 attempts. Allen made just 1-8 from the line after going 0-7 last game, though he did finish with 17 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Fellow freshman standout Andrew Jones added 12 points, though following his 3-3 start for eight points, he finished the night 2-9 from the field. Kerwin Roach Jr. and Shaq Cleare reached double figures on the scoreboard with 13 and 10, respectively.
Summing the night up would sound much like a broken record: Texas offense disappeared at times, the lack of a true point guard was apparent and costly, the ‘Horns displayed flashes of what they could be at times and after leading often, failed to close out a game that was arguably theirs to lose.
This is a team that simply needs to survive the final stretch without a meltdown, largely from a willingness to compete and play together standpoint, and start fresh during the offseason with more pieces and a potentially stacked roster pending possible additions (see Mohamed Bamba) and departures (see Allen and Jones).
Now 10-16 (4-9) on the season, the final five-game stretch won’t be kind to the ‘Horns with Kansas State, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor set to end what’s been a painful season in Austin.