Hoops: Another blowout loss to the Sooners

A little over a minute into the Big 12 semifinal game between UT and OU, <B>Deginald Erskin</B> knocked down a couple of free throws, tying the game at 2. For the Horns, it went downhill from there as the Sooners hung another blowout loss on Texas, 67-51.

Oklahoma pulled away early in the first half, opening up a nine-point lead 10 minutes in and pushing its advantage to 15 at the break. The Sooners nailed eight three pointers in the first 20 minutes while Texas managed just two. UT also turned the ball over 14 times in the first half.

Horn-killer Hollis Price set the second half tone on OU's first possession after the break, nailing a trey that buried UT in an 18-point hole. Oklahoma quickly extended its lead to 21 as Texas went scoreless on six straight possessions.

The Horns made one mini run at the Sooners, scoring seven unanswered points to pull within 13 at 55-42 at about the eight minute mark, but any hope of a comeback evaporated with a very typical (for the game) Erskin miss inside that would have cut the OU lead to 11 with over seven to play. Instead, Oklahoma scored on consecutive possessions and went on to open up a 22-point margin before Texas made the score slightly more respectable over the final couple of minutes.

T.J. Ford led the Horns in scoring with 18 points -- a bad sign in and of itself -- and the freshman point guard did not lead the team in assists -- a far worse sign considering Fredie Williams did with just three. Aaron McGhee dominated Brian Boddicker, Jason Klotz and anyone else in the Orange and White who tried to guard him or grab a rebound in his general vicinity. McGhee totaled 16 points and 15 boards to pace Oklahoma.

The Sooners, as they seem to do in every meeting with the Horns, out-toughed and out-hustled Texas, destroying UT overall on the stat sheet hustle categories of rebounding, turnovers and steals. And Oklahoma's hot-shooting from behind the arc (10-of-21 for the game) and the Horns' frequent inability to catch T.J.'s passes or make even uncontested lay-ups also hurt the Longhorn cause. Texas shot just 38-percent (18-of-48) from the field and a season-low 44-percent (11-of-25) from line.

All that added up to another bad loss, sending the 20-11 Horns back to Austin to await its NCAA Tournament fate while the Sooners play on. Saturday's pitiful performance in Kansas City certainly won't help UT's hopes to climb above a seven or eight seed in the Big Dance.

But aside from any seeding implications, the most frustrating aspect of Saturday's outcome is UT's continuing losing ways against OU. The Horns have now dropped an embarrassing eight straight to the Sooners. Oklahoma has eliminated Texas from the Big 12 Tourney in each of the last three years, including in last year's championship game, and in four of the last five.

It's far past time for Rick Barnes' squad to break the OU jinx. Barring an unlikely match-up in the NCAAs, though, that chance won't come till next January.

Despite the disappointment in KC, the Horns will get an opportunity to break another jinx, that being the Barnes post-season jinx. In nine trips to the Tourney as a head coach, a Barnes-coached team has walked off the court with a first round win just twice, in '97 with Clemson and in '00 with Texas. His NCAA Tournament record is a woeful 3-9.

Sunday at 5:00, when this year's NCAA field is announced, we'll learn the opponent against which Barnes will seek Tourney win No. 4.

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