Oklahoma Sneaks By Texas, 64-60

Playing its first game without leading scorer and rebounder P.J. Tucker, No. 11/14 Texas fell just short at No. 18/21 Oklahoma, 64-60.

The difference in this slugfest was Oklahoma's dominance on the offensive glass and, consequently, second-chance points (the area where Tucker's absence, along with injured F LaMarcus Aldridge, hurt Texas the most). The Sooners grabbed 22 offensive boards leading to 18 second-chance points compared to just ten rebounds for Texas on the offensive end and three second-chance points. All told, OU outrebounded Texas, 42-33.

The loss snapped Texas' five-game winning streak against its archrival, including back-to-back wins at Lloyd Noble Arena. But the Horns showed their coach something despite the setback.

"I thought we would find out a lot about our team in this game," Rick Barnes said. "I think there were a lot of people in the basketball world who wondered what kind of basketball team we were going to be. I told our guys that we have a good basketball team, and we need to put ourselves in position to win a game today. I was proud of the way we responded. I thought our composure was good throughout."

For the second game in a row, poised freshman G Daniel Gibson paced the Texas attack with 18 points (6-of-14 FG) followed by C Jason Klotz (14 points on 7-of-14 FG, four rebounds) and F Brad Buckman (12 points, nine rebounds). F Kevin Bookout paced OU with a game-high 18 points and 13 boards.

As expected, freshman F Mike Williams (15 minutes) and freshman G Dion Dowell (eight minutes) logged additional playing time but both were 0-for-1 from the field. Senior Sydmill Harris, starting in place of Tucker in a three-guard set, was 2-of-5 FG for eight points.

With both teams banging like it was the last game in March, Texas' most physical contest of the season saw the Sooners trail most of the contest in which there were eight ties and 13 lead changes before it was done. In the end, a pair of Lawrence McKenzie FTs with 7.7 seconds remaining sealed the deal for the Sooners.

"We fought back in and really had a chance to tie the game in the last minute," the Texas head coach said.

The Horns shot 21-of-49 (43 percent) from the field while limiting the Sooners to 25-of-66 (38 percent). Both teams shot poorly from beyond the arc -- Texas was 2-of-12 from three-point range while OU was just six-of-28. It's just that the Sooners hit three treys down the stretch to finally get separation from Texas.

Texas continued its torrid pace from FT line, hitting 16-of-19 (84 percent) after connecting on 89 percent of its foul shots against Oklahoma State Monday. The Sooners were 8-of-14 (57 percent) from the charity stripe. Oklahoma's bench outscored Texas', 17-0, as head coach Rick Barnes is now down to eight scholarship players.

"I think we're a great team, and the team we have right now is just as good as the one we had with those two guys," Klotz said. "We're all going to stick together and play together and play hard. Tonight, I think we showed that we could do that. We just have to come up with rebounds and flow in our offense."

Harris' trey from the left wing on the baseline dish from Gibson gave Texas a 5-0 lead. Gibson followed with a jumper from the top of the key to cap a 7-0 run before Drew Lavendar got the Sooners on board with a shot beyond the arc. McKenzie followed with a trey to narrow the Texas lead, 7-6. Another Gibson bucket, followed by Klotz's turnaround jumper spotted the Horns a 15-10 lead. But McKenzie's second trey of the day, over UT's zone, knotted the affair at 15 with 12 minutes remaining.

Taj Gray's shot in the lane gave OU its first lead, 17-15, to complete a 7-0 run. Klotz's slam regained the Texas lead, 18-17. A pair of Buckman free throws maintained the narrow margin, 20-19, with 8:03 left. Gibson's layup off the screen from Buckman ignited an 8-0 Texas run as the Horns matched their biggest lead, 28-21. The Sooners answered with back-to-back buckets before Klotz laid it in on the feed from Gibson. Following Bookout's putback, Gibson drove the length of the court to make it 32-27 at the break.

Gray followed his own blocked shot with a bucket at the other end to open up the second period scoring, while Harris began the half just as he did the first by connecting on a trey to make it 35-29, Texas. But a fired up Bookout answered with a hook shot before battling for the rebound and follow-up shot in the paint to narrow the Texas lead, 35-33. Gray's FG tied it at 35-apiece before Klotz responded with a putback. His turnaround jumper gave Texas a 39-37 lead after Terrell Everett's layup tied the game.

Bookout's three-point play spotted the Sooners a 40-39 lead with 5:05 eclipsed before Kenny Taylor got untracked with his runner in the lane. The lead changed with each trip down the court, including Gibson's layup as he tight-roped the baseline (replays would show he stepped out of bounds) before Gilbert's offensive board and putback gave the Sooners a 44-43 advantage.

A pair of McKenzie FT gave OU its biggest lead, 48-43, at the 9:08 mark. That's when Texas benefited from a four-point play that nearly swung the momentum permanently into Texas' corner.

Gibson came up with the steal near the Sooner baseline and, after driving the length of the court, was slammed into the post on the hard foul from Gray. The JC-transfer, who leads Oklahoma in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, was whistled for his fourth personal and then quickly picked up his fifth for standing over Gibson and taunting him with 8:35 remaining. Gibson calmly drained all four FTs as Gray was sent to the bench with 12 points on the day.

Buckman sunk a pair from the charity stripe to give Texas its final lead, 49-48, with 7:17 left. A pair of Taylor FTs produced the eighth tie of the game at 51 with 5:38 remaining. At this point, OU had misfired on 14 consecutive treys before McKenzie connected from outside of the arc. Everett's three-ball gave the Sooners a 56-53 lead.

Taylor's jumper narrowed the margin but Bookout's traditional three-point play made it 59-55, Sooners.

Leading 62-58 with 62 seconds left, Oklahoma missed the front end of a pair of one-and-ones on consecutive trips to the free throw line. Buckman, however, was whistled for basket interference following Taylor's attempt (an officiating decision that Barnes later said was dictated by the fans in the stands). Gibson's FG gave Texas a chance, trailing 62-60, with 8.6 seconds remaining. But McKenzie ended his team's brief drought from the foul stripe to complete the scoring.

Oklahoma is now 15-2 and 4-0 in league play for the first time since the 1998-99 season and in good early position to compete. We'll know a lot more about the Sooners in two days. Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State for the first installment this season of the Bedlam Series.

The Longhorns, now 14-4 on the season and 3-2 in conference play, should not drop significantly when the ratings are released Monday given the team's 75-61 win over No. 5 Oklahoma State but two losses this early in conference play puts the Horns in a hole in terms of finishing at or near the top of the league standings.

Texas gets an opportunity to get back in the win column vs. Bobby Knight and his Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-4, 3-1), 8 p.m. Tuesday in an ESPN+ telecast. And for those who are looking ahead, Oklahoma comes to Texas on February 28 in what will be both Senior Day in Austin as well the final ESPN 'Big Monday' telecast of the regular season.

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