With four seconds to play inside Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday night, Hield stepped to the free-throw line – Oklahoma leading by three points.
Behind him was the worst shooting performance of his career. He set a career-high with 13 missed shots on just 17 attempts. In front of him were two free throws that could ice the game and give the Sooners a second straight season sweep of their biggest rival.
He stepped up and calmly knocked both of them down, and Oklahoma needed them both.
The Sooners, who rallied from down six points with less than four minutes to play, were all smiles after a 71-69 victory against Texas – a game that featured plenty of reasons for Oklahoma to not be so jovial.
“No matter the moment, just play in the moment,” said Hield, who finished with 12 points on a 4-for-17 performance from the field. “My coaches give me confidence. My teammates give me confidence. No matter what, even if I’m struggling, every shot I shoot, I still think I’m going to make it. I don’t care how much I miss.”
Hield wasn’t the only one who struggled for the Sooners (18-8, 9-5 Big 12). Through the first 25 minutes, Oklahoma’s starters were a combined 8-for-33. For much of the game, the Sooners had more shots blocked than shots made from inside the 3-point arc.
All of that seemed to go away in the final minutes as Oklahoma put together a 10-0 run, erasing a game’s worth of errors and a season of bad late-game memories.
“When it comes down to the stretch, you can’t worry about that kind of stuff,” said Woodard, who finished with one of Oklahoma’s five turnovers in the game. “You just have to make plays for your teammates.” TaShawn Thomas came up with an offensive rebound and a put-back – pump-faking three times for good measure – after a Woodard steal. His free throw tied the game.
Woodard scored on a hard drive in the lane and then found forward Ryan Spangler on a back cut off a broken play to give Oklahoma a four-point lead with 32 seconds to play.
After Texas pulled within three, Hield stepped to the line with four seconds to play.
“These are the toughest games to play,” Hield said. “You really have to close out. You really have to fight. . . . It was a good team effort. We just have keep grinding and grinding until the last buzzer.”
Where No. 17 Oklahoma had faltered before, it was strong. The Sooners won a game by less than eight points for the first time all season and erased four-straight losses when the game is decided by less than four points.
Seven different players scored at least eight points for Oklahoma, which was led by 13 points from Woodard - eight in the final five minutes. Frank Booker and Dinjiyl Walker each scored 10 points off the bench, saving Oklahoma early when its starters struggled against Texas’ man-to-man defense.
Oklahoma won its fourth straight game against Texas (17-9, 6-7), which held the Big 12 Conference’s longest active winning streak, and for only the second time in school history capped a four-game rivalry sweep – beating Oklahoma State and the Longhorns twice in the same season.
“The plays our guys made down the stretch were big-time plays,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “They kind of shared it a little bit. Each of them stepped up and made big buckets. . . . It was a good win. I’m proud of the guys.”