NORMAN – Oklahoma’s All-American guard Buddy Hield missed shots and yelled at his teammates. He threw the ball away on offense and watched his mark blow by him defensively.
None of that really mattered.
Hield had his worst shooting night of the season – and arguably the worst of the past two years – heading into the final three-and-a-half minutes of the game. Oklahoma was ready to lose back-to-back games for the first time in more than a year.
Then, like Clarke Kent jumping into a telephone booth, Hield went from cold to just cold-blooded, scoring the final 12 points of the game for Oklahoma. He pulled up from the wing with a hand in his face and knocked down just his third 3-pointer in ten attempts with 1.3 seconds to play – but it was like he hadn’t missed yet.
The Sooners’ Superman saved No. 3 Oklahoma with his late-game surge to keep the Sooners unbeaten at home with a 63-60 victory against No. 24 Texas on Monday night.
“I'm trying to make plays for my teammates,” Hield said. “My teammates trusted me and coach trusted me with the ball, and I was able to get downhill. . . . As a player, you want those big moments and you've got to relish it and compete for every bucket you can.”
With a subtle shift to the left wing instead of straight away, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger got Hield in a more comfortable position for the final shot. He had the option of driving or pulling up for the 3-pointer, but Hield saw Texas help around the basket and decided to cross over and pull up for the game-winner.
Kendal Yancy, who had given Hield trouble all night, got an out-stretched hand in Hield’s face, but it didn’t matter.
“It was a tough play,” Kruger said. “It wasn’t any special play. It was a special shot.”
Texas, which hasn’t won in Norman since 2012, led by as many as ten in the first half and kept Oklahoma (20-3, 8-3 Big 12) from getting into a natural rhythm with its physicality. But the Sooners chipped away at the lead, even after repeated attempts to re-take the lead failed.
With 3:08 to go, Hield made the change. He ditched the metaphorical glass for the waving cape once again.
He hit a 3-pointer from the wing and then scored in the paint on the next possession. After a Texas missed shot, Hield tied the game with a pair of free throws and two minutes to play. Hield hit two more free throws after attacking the rim to give Oklahoma a two-point lead before Isaiah Taylor tied the game from the free-throw line with less than a minute to play.
“He’s a terrific player,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said of Hield. “There’s a reason he’s the best player in the country and makes plays. I thought our guys for most of the game did a really good job on him. . . . Down the stretch he was really aggressive, got to the foul line and hit that big shot.”
Hield moved into sixth place all-time in scoring and became the first player in program history to knock down 300 career 3-pointers.
After Hield missed a pull-up jumper – the Sooners’ only wasted possession of the final seven, Taylor had a chance to give Texas the lead. He drove to the basket but picked up an offensive foul to give Oklahoma its final shot.
Oklahoma, which won its fifth-straight game against the Longhorns and sixth in the last seven games, had its worst first half of the entire season, scoring 23 points below its average and 10 points lower than its previous worst.
That was in the past when Isaiah Cousins, who scored 17 for the Sooners, delivered the pass to Hield on the wing as the final seconds ticked away. It didn’t matter when Hield let the game-winning shot fly, and it was a distant memory when Hield grabbed the final desperation inbounds pass by the Longhorns.
“I’d been struggling all night trying to get a shot off,” Hield said. “I finally made the last two, which is more important.”