NORMAN, Okla. — If Sooners fans weren't counting the days until Texas senior guard Brandon Mouton graduates — they are now.
Mouton scored a game-high 25 points, including the eventual game-winning free throw with 37 seconds left, as 12th-ranked Texas (19-4, 10-2) pushed their winning streak to four games over the Sooners (16-7, 6-6) with a 68-63 win Saturday in Norman.
"We had our chances," said Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, whose Sooners had not lost back-to-back home since January of 1999. "We lost Mouton a couple of times in the corner. He is a heck of a senior and a good player. You have to have someone like him step up on the road. He stepped up and hit some big, big shots."
The Sooners led by one at halftime and then used an 8-2 run to build their largest lead at 46-40 with 12:33 to go. But that's when Mouton took over, as he scored UT's next five points and eight total in a 15-2 run that put the 'Horns up 55-48 at the seven minute mark.
Oklahoma slowly but surely clawed their way back, and Jason Detrick's three-point play after being fouled by Mouton with 51 seconds to go tied the game at 63-63.
Texas quickly got to the ball back into the hands of Mouton, who was fouled by Johnnie Gilbert with 37 seconds left. Mouton made his first free throw, but missed his second attempt and the ball eventually ended up in the hands of freshman forward P.J. Tucker for an easy layup to give the 'Horns a 66-63 lead.
Oklahoma failed to score on their next possession when De'Angelo Alexander missed a driving layup that could have cut the lead to to one. Drew Lavender then fouled Texas senior point guard Royal Ivey, who then calmly stepped to the free throw line with 11 seconds left and sank two free throws to put the Sooners away for good.
"I really felt like our team fed off of his confidence tonight," said Texas Head Coach Rick Barnes on Mouton, who was the only Longhorn to score in double figures. "I felt like he really carried himself the way you want a guy who has really led your team for a number of years to."
"I just felt good out there," said Mouton, who also led the 'Horns with 13 points in their 66-37 win over Oklahoma on Feb. 8 in Austin. "I don't think I am the go-to guy. I am one of them but I am not a selfish player. However, I do feel comfortable with the ball when the game is on the line."
Once again, poor shooting and rebounding proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Sooners. OU shot just 36 percent from the field while the Longhorns finished at 42 percent. Texas also outrebounded the Oklahoma 46-30.
"We just did not get it done," said senior guard Jason Detrick. "If we grab a couple of boards at the end we win. We let them get too many cheap points and that hurt. They out rebounded us and that was probably the biggest factor. We just hurt ourselves and did not rebound."
"If you don't have big, strong bruisers in there you better either be quick and athletic or big and strong," said Sampson. "I felt like our kids banged in there, I thought our kids played hard. They played with big hearts."
"We put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win the game. Sometimes it comes down to breaks. As this year has gone along we have proven that we haven't gotten a lot of breaks."
Freshman point guard Drew Lavender led the Sooners with 18 points. Joining Lavender in double figures was Detrick (14), Alexander (12) and freshman backcourt mate Lawrence McKenzie with 10. In all, 32 of Oklahoma's 63 points were scored by freshmen.
"This is not the end of the world and we can still make the NCAA Tournament," said Lavender. "Next week is big and we need to make sure we improve each time we step on the practice court."
"I just think Kelvin has always gone out and played a tough schedule and if you go 8-8 in this league and you do not get in, then there is a problem," said Barnes when asked about OU's chance of making the NCAA tournament. "Oklahoma is capable of winning their next four games and going 10-6. You still have the conference tournament and they have won it every year, so they are very much still in it."
"I wish them the best of luck. They have a lot of great guys on their team," added Mouton. "I talked to a couple of them after and just told them to win games and good luck. They are definitely capable of winning the games to put them into the tournament."
Next up for the Sooners is Colorado on Wednesday in Boulder. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
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