Horns Stay In League Race With 68-63 Win In Norman

Despite receiving a 29-point spanking from the Horns less than a month ago in Austin, Oklahoma had Texas on the ropes mid-way through the second half in Norman Saturday night. UT trailed OU by six heading into the home stretch at Lloyd Noble arena, a crushing loss on the horizon for a Longhorn team that still harbored league title hopes. <B>Brandon Mouton</B>, though, simply would not allow the Horns to drop another game that belonged in the win column.

With the Sooners on top 46-40 with just over 12 minutes to play, UT's senior swingman nailed a top of the key three and followed that up with a drive from the arc punctuated with a slam to pull the Horns within one less than a minute later. Brian Boddicker added a trey of his own and Jason Klotz bookended the Texas run with a nifty hook in the lane to give UT a 50-46 advantage over its Red River rivals.

Over the game's final minutes, Mouton added a huge assist (leading to a James Thomas dunk) and six more points, including the go-ahead free throw after the Sooners tied it at 63, as the Horns held off a determined OU squad 68-63.

"I just felt good out there," Mouton said post-game. "I think we learned a lot from the Iowa State game and that is if you get a lead, you can not relax out there. Defense helps you get the lead but the offense keeps it for you, so we just kept that mentality out there tonight. 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." 

Mouton led all scorers with 25 points in 33 minutes (his third straight 20-plus point performance). OU's fab frosh point guard Drew Lavender paced the Sooners with 18. Thomas moved into first place on the Horns' all-time rebounding list when he ripped down a rebound on Johnnie Gilbert's free throw miss in the first few minutes of the game. Thomas finished with a game-high 12 boards and now has 1,038 for his career, 11 more than LaSalle Thompson totaled in his three years on the Forty Acres.

Texas freshman P.J. Tucker was also a force cleaning the glass, totaling 11 rebounds in 29 minutes, but Klotz may have turned in the game's most critical board. After Mouton gave the Horns the lead at 64-63 by connecting on the front end of a one-and-one with 38.3 seconds to play, the junior center pulled down the carom of Mouton's second attempt miss, giving Texas the ball with the lead and with a favorable clock. Klotz found Boddicker who got the ball in the hands of Royal Ivey who attacked the disorganized Sooner D and found Tucker alone under the basket for a lay-in that extended the Texas lead to three, 66-63, with 26.2 ticks remaining.

Klotz grabbed the second-most important rebound of the game 15 seconds later after OU's De'Angelo Alexander couldn't connect on a reverse lay-up. Ivey provided the game's final margin with his two free throw makes with 11.6 to play. Texas outrebounded Oklahoma 46-30.

"Tonight was just the same story of our team this season, different guys at different times doing different things," Texas head coach Rick Barnes said.

Both teams played a clean first half, turning the ball over just three times each. Despite a relatively hot start from the Horns (Texas led 9-4), the game remained a tight affair till the break, with both OU's and UT's biggest first half lead five points leading to a 33-32 halftime margin in favor of the guys in Crimson and Cream. The second half followed a similar pattern, with the Horns jumping on top right after the intermission before the Sooners moved out to their biggest lead of the evening at 46-40, setting up Mouton's heroics.

The win keeps the Horns (19-4, 10-2) in the Big 12 race -- at least until Monday night when Kansas (17-6, 9-3) travels to Austin for a Big Monday clash. Oklahoma State had to go to overtime in Stillwater to take care of Nebraska, but the Cowboys (21-2, 11-1) maintained their one-game lead over the Horns with the 77-73 win. Texas Tech, Colorado and Missouri are in a fourth-place logjam at 7-5 in league play and Oklahoma (16-7, 6-6) fell into the bottom half of the league standings and squarely on the NCAA Tourney bubble.

Horns Digest Top Stories