OU Wins Second Straight, Beats Tech 64-55

NORMAN, Okla. — There's always a few of these a year, and this was one of them: a game where the Sooners struggle but still end up victorious.

OU slumped to just 38.9 percent shooting with more turnovers (12) than assists (9) but was able to overcome it in its second straight Big 12 Conference victory, a 64-55 decision over the Texas Tech Red Raiders Tuesday evening.

"Good win, not necessarily a pretty win but a good win," said head coach Lon Kruger. "I thought the guys really worked hard, both teams, all night long. I thought defensively both had the other out of rhythm. Neither shot it particularly well, but both worked really hard."

In the end, it was really the Sooners who might have worked just a little bit harder.

Their effort in the zone defense prevented Tech from getting into any kind of offensive flow and forced it to just 32.6 percent shooting from the field, including less than 30 percent in the second half.

"You know, we played a little zone that we haven't played that much for awhile," Kruger said. "I thought the guys were pretty active there."

While Tech did manage to make 50 percent of its attempts from behind the arc, going 7-for-14, the zone did is best work in the paint.

The Red Raiders could only muster eight points there, while OU scored 26 inside.

Forwards Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald, who combined for 28 total points with 15 and 13, respectively, contributed in large part to that.

Guard Steven Pledger, although he shot just 1-of-6 from 3-point range, actually led all scorers with his 17.

He was 6-for-13 overall.

"I hadn't seen a triangle and two since I was eleven years old, so it was very frustrating towards the end," Pledger said.

One other Sooner finished in double figures.

Guard Cam Clark provided 10 points off the bench.

Bench players Javarez Willis and Jaye Crockett led the Red Raiders with 16 and 14, respectively.

Crockett actually finished with the game's only double-double, record 10 rebounds as well.

"[He's been] competing harder and rebounding," said Tech head coach Billy Gillispie. "You know, he's becoming a consistent rebounder for us."

Speaking of rebounding, the Sooners, who have been among the nation's tops in rebounding all year, were out-bounded for the second game in a row.

"We've got to do a better job," Kruger said. "We've got to be more physical. We got to get a body on people, especially the defensive boards. In this league, you try to do and take a lot of areas and hold your own in as many as you can and win some battles and others. And rebounding is an area where we've got to at least hold our own, and we haven't done that in the last couple ball games especially, so we've got to keep working on that."

The Sooners did score 22 points off 21 Tech turnovers.

Tech scored just seven off OU's 12 turns.

Teams traded the lead seven times and tied four in a first half that ended with OU leading 29-22.

The Red Raiders never led again after that point.

But they closed it to three on a number of occasions and even down to one with 4:07 remaining.

The Sooners just never allowed them to get over that hump, thanks in large part to their defense.

It certainly wasn't OU's inconsistent offense that kept it on top.

"It's very frustrating when you got--they weren't making any shots and we were right in the position we needed to be, even after turning the ball over 15 times in the first half," Gillispie said. "They just were missing some shots and giving us and opportunities and we go to the foul line, we're down four, we miss the front end of a 1-and-1...We just made so many bad decisions, stepping out of bounds twice unforced and just like I said, turning the ball over 15 times in the first half."

Because of that, the Sooners were able to close it out at the charity stripe, where they went 21-for-26 overall throughout the contest.

OU (12-5 overall) gladly takes a win that moves it within one game of .500 in conference play after starting 0-3.

It now heads to College Station for a 3 p.m. Saturday battle against the Texas A&M Aggies, while the Red Raiders (7-10 overall) return home to play Iowa State at 4 p.m. Saturday, still seeking their first win in Big 12 play after five unsuccessful tries.

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