Bookout powers Sooners past Texas

Texas players Sydmill Harris and Jason Klotz double-team Oklahoma foward Kevin Bookout during the Sooners' 64-60 win over Texas Saturday in Norman. Kevin Bookout led OU with 18 points as the Sooners improved to 4-0 in Big 12 play and into a tie for first place with Kansas. (AP Photot/Jerry Laizure)

NORMAN, Okla. — It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win, especially in the Red River Shootout.

Oklahoma ended their five-game losing streak to Texas and extended their current winning streak to nine games with a 64-60 win over the 11th-ranked Longhorns Saturday in Norman.

The win also moved Oklahoma (15-2) into a first-place tie in the Big 12 with Kansas at 4-0 and marked their best start in conference play since the 1998-99 season.

"It was a good win," said Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson. "There's no question about it. Coach Rick Barnes is a good friend of mine and I'd like to congratulate his kids for their play today."

"We did not play our best ball of the year today," said junior forward Kevin Bookout, who led the Sooners with 18 points. "We have so many areas in which we can still improve, but we are starting to become a good team. "We didn't play our best ball tonight, but we were still able to win."

Oklahoma, who trailed 32-27 at halftime, opened the second half with an 8-3 run to tie the game at 35-35 with 17:24 to go and later took their first lead at 40-39 on a Bookout bucket and foul nearly three minutes later.

The lead would change hands four more times before Oklahoma used a 6-0 run, capped by two Lawrence McKenzie free throws, to push the lead to 48-43 with 9:07 to go. But just 32 seconds later, Taj Gray fouled out when he picked up his fourth personal while attempting to block a fastbreak layup by Texas guard Daniel Gibson, and fifth foul on a techincal after the play.

Gibson then hit four consecutive free throws to cut OU's lead to 48-47, and two possessions later Texas forward Brad Buckman hit two free throws to give the Longhorns a 49-48 lead with 7:21 to go.

The teams traded baskets and OU went on an 8-5 run, including three's from Drew Lavender and McKenzie, to take a 57-55 lead and control the ball with just over two minutes to go. That's when Bookout converted a tough 3-point play with a circus shot over his head while being fouled with 1:59 to go to extend the lead to 60-55.

Texas responded with a pair of free throws to cut the lead to three, but Lavender answered on OU's next possession with a 3-pointer that gave the Sooners a 63-58 lead with 1:21 to go. The Longhorns would add a Buckman free throw and Gibson layup to cut the lead to 62-60 with 12 seconds left, but McKenzie buried a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to ice the game.

In all, the Sooners were lucky to get out with a win despite shooting 37.9 (25-for-66) percent from the field and just 21.4 percent from 3-point range (6-for-28) against a tough Texas zone defense.

"They had us on our heels in the zone and we had a very poor shooting night," said Sampson, who improved to 16-8 head-to-head against Texas. "I didn't think we played great, but I was pleased because we won without looking great. Texas had a lot to do with that. It was two great programs with a lot of pride and history competing in a great game."

Back to Bookout. In addition to his 18 points, the junior from Stroud added a game-high 13 rebounds in 38 minutes of play.

"He was good. Where he killed us was on the boards," said Barnes on Bookout and the Sooners, who outrebounded Texas 42-33. "That was the difference. I don't understand how he made that flip over his head and drew a foul, but I give him credit for it. He's a heck of a player."

"Sometimes we show our inexperience in a big game," Sampson said. "Taj struggled tonight and has to figure some things out, but Bookout stepped up tonight. Good things always happen to those with great character like Bookout. I'm not looking forward to him playing in his final senior game."

Oklahoma will take Sunday off before hosting Oklahoma State in another Big 12 South Showdown Monday night in Norman. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

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