Sooners Escape 'Horns

Damarcus Croaker missed a 25-foot three-point attempt with 8 seconds left, and and the Sooners held on to beat the Longhorns 88-85.

The Oklahoma win broke an eight-game losing streak in Austin, with the Sooners' last road win in the series coming on Feb. 20, 2005.

"I'm disappointed because we're better than this. OK? We're better," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "For whatever reason, we didn't play up to the ability that I think we have.

"I can also trace it back, I don't think we've been real good after Christmas," Barnes said.

In close games this season, the Longhorns typically got the plays they needed to down the stretch to win. But in the conference opener, after catching a break with a technical on Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins, the 'Horns were just a few plays short.

Cousins was nailed for catching Demarcus Holland with an elbow, the second technical foul on Cousins for the game, ejecting him from the contest.

Javan Felix made both free throws after the technical, tying the game at 78. He had the next shot too, an open three-point look that rimmed in-and-out with 2:08 left.

That's when Jordan Woodard took over. After he was fouled by Isaiah Taylor, Woodard made two free throws to give Oklahoma the lead, then, after Oklahoma grabbed an offensive rebound on its next possession, Woodard slithered inside for a layup. Two more free throws put the Sooners up six at 84-78, two more took the game from 84-80 to 86-80 and another two made it 88-82 with 28 seconds remaining.

The Sooners themselves appeared to have the game clinched, but a long Jonathan Holmes three-pointer from the wing with 18 seconds left remaining cut the lead in half. And after Texas fouled Woodard again — the freshman was 8-for-8 on free throws at that point — the Sooner guard missed both shots, giving the Longhorns a chance to send the game into overtime with a made three-point shot.

Alas, Croaker's look was long, bouncing off the back iron and into a crowd of rebounders. The ball, along with several players, went to the floor and the ensuing jump ball gave the ball back to the Sooners with 2.3 seconds left. Oklahoma threw the inbounds pass long and ran out the clock to secure the win.

Barnes said after the game that the final call was actually a play for Holmes, but that the ball needed to funnel through Taylor first.

"It wasn't a shot that we had hoped to get," Croaker said. "I got the rebound and I thought it was supposed to go to Javan, but it was supposed to go to the point guard, Isaiah.

"It was a good look for me," Croaker said. "It felt good when it came off, but I'm not really concerned about the shot. I'm more concerned about the team."

In a fast-tempo first half, the two teams blistered the nets from distance, shooting a combined 17-of-29 from three. Oklahoma, which hit 10-of-16 from behind the arc and 5-of-16 inside it, led 43-39 heading into the break. That lead was seven just a few seconds before, but Felix hit a long pull-up three-pointer from the top of the key just before the buzzer sounded.

Texas was out-rebounded for the game at 39-28 and didn't shoot its first free throw until the 17:24 mark in the second half. Both of those facts — Oklahoma grabbed 17 offensive boards to Texas's 20 while scoring 19 second-chance points — helped the Sooners overcome a hot shooting night for the Longhorns, who shot 50.8 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three.

"They beat us on the glass," Felix said. "That was the difference in the game. I think we were lackadaisical on the boards tonight, and that was definitely something that we went over on the scouting report. We just weren't able to do that tonight."

Felix led all scorers with 28 points, and he added five assists to just one turnover. Three other Longhorns (11-3, 0-1 Big 12) joined him in double figures with Holmes and Croaker each scoring 15 and Cameron Ridley adding 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

"I think we got some of the shots that we wanted [down the stretch], but I'm not going to sit here and lie to you that every shot was good or approved by us," Felix said.

Oklahoma (12-2, 1-0) had five players score 11 or more, led by Buddy Hield, who had 22. Neal and Cousins scored 13 apiece, Woodard finished with 12 and Ryan Spangler had 11.

Texas faces its first road test of the year when the Longhorns travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The Cowboys (12-2, 0-1) also lost their opener, falling in a 74-71 shocker at Kansas State.

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