NORMAN, Okla. – Without Jordan Woodard, you knew it was going to have to be a total team effort from Oklahoma on Tuesday night and definitely the rest of the way.
For the first part? It was, and it paid off. Sparked by Jamuni McNeace and bench play, the Sooners prevailed 70-66 against Texas on Tuesday evening to snap a seven-game losing streak. Now we’ll see about the rest of the year.
“Just obviously a hard-fought game,” head coach Lon Kruger said. “For 40 minutes, I thought both teams battled hard. I’m very happy for our guys. We’ve had a few in position to finish and we haven’t, yet we’ve stayed right there. They’ve hung together, they’ve worked hard and they’ve made progress.
“I’m really pleased for the guys tonight to feel what they’re feeling. It’s been awhile. But a long way to go and this group is going to keep making progress and we’re looking forward to getting back after it this week.”
McNeace earned his first career double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, setting a career high in rebounds and tying his career-best in points. OU’s bench outscored Texas 35-10 for the evening.
Woodard, a senior guard, tore his ACL on Saturday, leaving Darrion Strong-Moore and Jordan Shepherd to pick up the slack. A video tribute was played in honor of Woodard in the first half, which led to a huge ovation from the Lloyd Noble Center crowd.
As for the production without Woodard, it was Shepherd who came alive in the second half, scoring all seven of his points in the final five minutes.
Woodard had a simple message for his teammates, “don’t lose to Texas.”
OU trailed 49-43 before finding its footing to guarantee the losing streak would stop at seven. Although not the most impressive offensive performance from freshman guard Kameron McGusty, he came up huge with five steals to go with his 11 points. The five steals are a career high.
The Sooners only shot 37 percent from the field, but it was their aggressiveness that helped win the day. OU was 22-of-31 from the free throw line compared to Texas, which was only 7 of 16.
Before fouling out, freshman Kristian Doolittle had nine points and seven rebounds.
Rashard Odomes contributed 11 points and the statement-making block in the final seconds to put his imprint on the victory.
OU has been involved in so many nip-and-tuck games, and the Sooners weren’t exactly smooth in finishing this one off. But they did finish, a sign from a young team that has had plenty of reason to pack it in but has kept pushing.
The second part of redemption week is Saturday as OU (9-16 overall, 3-10) heads to Oklahoma State for Bedlam 7 p.m. CST in Stillwater.