For the Texas Longhorns to bounce back from a Wednesday night loss to No. 10 Texas Tech, Shaka Smart’s club would be required to do so against No. 12 Oklahoma and the Sooners star guard, Trae Young, whom the ESPN College GameDay crew referred to as the most captivating player of this era.
In front of a sold out crowd a the Frank Erwin Center, Texas did exactly that, rallying down the stretch to notch a 79-74 win over Oklahoma.
The Longhorns and Sooners came out swinging and exchanging early leads, but that theme wouldn’t last. After a Matt Coleman jumper gave Texas a 10-9 lead, Christian Jones answered with a three that gave Oklahoma a lead it didn’t relinquish until the final minutes of the game. Although Texas didn’t do itself many favors by allowing seemingly countless points in transition and failing to find consistent offense outside of a handful of connections from the perimeter, Oklahoma and its high-powered offense were unable to pull away.
It appeared that would be the case around the mid-point of the first half, as a Rashard Odomes dunk capped an 8-0 Oklahoma run to give the Sooners a 26-18 run, but Texas responded by outscoring Oklahoma 17-14 throughout the final 8:48 of the first half to trim the Sooners lead to 40-35 entering intermission.
Although Mohamed Bamba was largely ineffective in the first half, especially on the defensive end without a single block while Jumani McNeace cruised to 14 points, Young was also largely contained, totaling just five points, although he did dish out nine first half assists.
Coming out of the break, after the Longhorns and Sooners exchanged blows to keep the deficit at five, 45-40, Oklahoma once again looked to be taking control, as a Young floater capped a 10-3 Sooners run for a 50-40 edge.
Within just four minutes, Oklahoma’s lead was completely eradicated, as Kerwin Roach II and Coleman caught fire on the offensive end to tie the game at 52 with 12:26 remaining. In continuing with the previous theme, though, Oklahoma made another run, capitalizing in transition and at the free throw line for the next five minutes for a 14-5 run and a 66-57 lead with 7:56 remaining.
That would prove to be Oklahoma’s final push, though.
Roach responded with a three-pointer before Texas cashed in with six straight free throws to tie the game at 66 with 5:39 remaining. After a Young three-pointer didn’t find its mark the ensuing possession, Coleman continued his offensive hot streak, giving Texas its first lead since 10-9 with 5:01 left to play.
After playing from behind throughout much of the evening, Texas was now the aggressor, utilizing high ball screens and isolations on Young for points at the rim and from the charity stripe down the stretch to assure the lead wasn’t relinquished.
Much of that had to do with Coleman.
After missing three potential game-winning free throws against Texas Tech, the Longhorns freshman guard nailed all four attempts in the final two minutes to push Texas’ lead to 76-70. Of course, seemingly no lead is safe with the sharpshooting Young on the other end, but after a prayer from three fell short, Texas got out in transition for an Eric Davis Jr. lob to Bamba to seal the win, capping a 20-4 Longhorns run.
Longhorns take the W!— ESPN (@espn) February 4, 2018
Texas defeats Trae Young and the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners. pic.twitter.com/tMslCa1bLK
On a night in which many expected the Trae Young Show to continue, it was the Longhorns flashy freshman guard who led the way. Coleman led all scorers with a career-high 22 points on an efficient 8-13 from the field, and although Young did total 14 assists, Coleman’s defense played a significant role in Young being limited to just 19 points.
Roach narrowly missed a 20-point performance with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals, although Roach did total five turnovers. Dylan Osetkowski and Bamba joined Coleman and Roach in double figures with 15 points and 13 points, respectively, although 13 of their 28 points came from the charity stripe. That success from the line played a late role in the Longhorns leading with way as the final seconds ticked away, sinking 20-27 free throw attempts for the game.
Not surprisingly, Young led Oklahoma in the scoring column with the aforementioned 19 points and 14 assists. After recording 14 first half points — more than all of his previous seven games combined — McNeace finished with 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Odomes and James also combined for 25 points on 11-16 from the field.
With the win over Oklahoma, Texas notches its third ranked win in the last eight games, significantly bolstering its NCAA Tournament resume down the stretch. More notably, wins like the one Texas enjoyed over Oklahoma on Saturday evening build confidence and chemistry, especially at a crucial point in the season.
That’s good news for Texas considering a less than overwhelming portion of its schedule looms ahead. Beginning with Kansas State on Wednesday, five of the Longhorns next six opponents are currently unranked, with Oklahoma on Feb. 17 as the lone exception.