NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma couldn’t do much inside all night. But in the final 2:30 against Texas on Tuesday night, the No. 17 Sooners drove the lane, made plays on the offensive boards and got to the free-throw line to pull out a 71-69 win over the Longhorns at Lloyd Noble Center.
“Our guys kept fighting and plugging and trying to stay within reach there in the second half,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “Texas had a step on us and played with a little bit of a margin but our guys kept working at it.”
The Sooners trailed by as many as seven in the final seven minutes but slowly cut the deficit with the help of some strong defense.
Sophomore point guard Jordan Woodard’s steal set up senior forward TaShawn Thomas’s offensive rebound and putback with 2:32 remaining. Thomas was fouled and hit the free throw to tie the game for the first time since 13 minutes remained.
Thomas had several shots blocked in the game and Sooners coaches kept telling him to pump fake.
“I was,” Thomas said. “I just wasn’t doing it enough. So on that one I was going to make sure I faked it one extra time.”
It took until the third fake for Thomas to clear room to hit the shot.
Woodard then put the Sooners up with a driving layup with 1:30 remaining.
But he left open the door for the Longhorns by missing a free throw with 7.4 seconds left to give Texas a shot to force overtime.
But sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins fouled Kendal Yancy before the sophomore guard could get a shot off. Yancy missed the first free throw and junior guard Buddy Hield pulled down the rebound, was fouled and hit two free throws to put the game away.
Texas senior forward Jonathan Holmes hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to narrow the margin.
Texas blocked 13 Sooners’ shots — the Sooners made just 14 two-point buckets in the game.
Woodard led the Sooners with 13 points, Hield had 12 and sophomore guard Frank Booker and junior guard Dinjiyl Walker added 10 off the bench.
Oklahoma turned up the defensive pressure late, finishing with eight steals on 13 Texas turnovers. The Sooners scored 18 points off those turnovers and outscored the Longhorns 9-0 on the fastbreak.
“They’re an outstanding team,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We did a lot of good things tonight. We’re close but close doesn’t get it done. Turnovers at the wrong time (hurt). We had a chance to put a little bit more pressure on them.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Longhorns (17-9, 6-7 Big 12).
“We have a chance to be a really good team but we still have to play to the ability we know we can,” Barnes said.
Myles Turner is starting to play like the potential one-and-done player Texas thought it was getting when the 6-foot-11 forward decided to come to Austin.
The freshman scored 17 points, with 10 rebounds and blocked six shots in the loss.
Yancy added 14.
It was a much different result than Jan. 5 in Austin, when the Sooners crushed the Longhorns 70-49.
In that game, Texas scored just 14 first-half points and Turner was just 2-for-9 from the field with four points.
But despite not starting against the Sooners, Turner came off the bench to frustrate Oklahoma (18-8, 9-5 Big 12) on the defensive end and make them pay on the offensive end.
Turner was 5 of 9 from the field, missing just one shot from inside the 3-point line for Texas.
The teams went back and forth for much of the first half, with Oklahoma struggling to get to the rim consistently against Texas’ big interior.
The Sooners stayed in the game thanks to outside shooting and by hitting their free throws.
They had to get production from unexpected places, though.
Hield, the Big 12’s leading scorer, was 3 of 10 from the floor before halftime and junior forward Ryan Spangler, one of the most consistent shooters on the Sooners, was just 2 of 7.
But reserve guards Walker and Booker combined for three 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
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