Sooners Edge Red Raiders in OT
Tubby Smith revamped his starting lineup and his rotation. He went big, with a starting five featuring both 6-foot-9 Norense Odiase and 6-foot-10 Isaiah Manderson, to go along with Toddrick Gotcher, Zach Smith, and Keenan Evans. The lineup was as young as it was tall, featuring four true freshmen and a junior. And if this group’s effectiveness is any indication, Tech fans could see much more of it next season.
The big Red Raiders dominated the glass, at least in the first half, preventing a single Sooner from collecting an offensive rebound, and holding a six-rebound advantage at the halftime break. But OU led on the scoreboard 30-29.
Tech didn’t surrender the lead until there was 9:13 remaining in the half, when Isaiah Cousins, who paced the Sooners with 22 points, dropped in a layup to make it 16-14.
OU led until the 4:47 mark, when Luke Adams, the only bench performer to really contribute for the Red Raiders, hit a pair of free throws to give Tech a 20-19 lead.
In what was very much a seesaw affair in the first half, Jordan Woodard’s two free throws, after an apparent travel that wasn’t called, gave the visitors their one-point lead at the intermission.
The second half was every bit as tense and tight, as the lead switched hands a few times and neither club could break away from the other. However, when TaShawn Thomas converted an old fashioned 3-point play to give the Sooners a 65-59 cushion with only 1:41 remaining, it looked like Tech’s goose was probably cooked.
But the battling Red Raiders had other ideas.
A Keenan Evans putback with 1:14 remaining cut OU’s advantage to four.
Buddy Hield missed a 3-pointer with 39 seconds showing on the clock and Zach Smith converted a 3-ball of his own at the other end to make it 65-64 with 22 seconds remaining.
Jordan Woodard hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to push OU’s advantage back to three.
And then things really got interesting.
Cousins fouled Toddrick Gotcher with seven seconds on the clock, but Gotcher missed the first free throw. Tubby Smith called a time out.
Gotcher then intentionally missed the second free throw; Manderson snagged the carom and pitched the orange back to Gotcher who drained a trifecta with six seconds left.
Unfortunately, Tech’s defense was very marginal down the stretch in this game, and it continued to be so in the overtime period.
The Sooners scored on five of their final seven possessions of the second half, and on six of seven possessions in the overtime period.
Hield, who had had a miserable day heretofore, knocked down consecutive treys to give Oklahoma a 75-70 lead with 2:42 remaining in the overtime period.
However, a Smith jumper and a Gotcher 3-ball knotted the score at 75 with 1:19 to play.
But those were Tech’s final points as the Sooners got four free throws in the closing moments to escape with the win.
Free throw shooting was a huge factor in this game. The teams shot an almost identical number—25 for OU and 26 for Tech—but while the Sooners connected on 80 percent of their freebies, the Red Raiders only managed to knock down 65 percent of theirs.
Tech also got practically nothing from its bench, despite Turner and Williams’ presence there. The Red Raider bench contributed exactly two points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and six turnovers in a cumulative 28 minutes of play. Tech’s starters played an average of 39 minutes out of a possible 45, and fatigue may have hampered Tech’s defense down the stretch.
The Red Raiders will take on TCU (16-10, 3-10) at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday in Fort Worth.