Austin, TX – After dropping the previous three games by a combined 11 points, the Texas Longhorns were finally able to win a close game as they defeated the Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 75-72. The Longhorns are now 7-1 on the year when scoring 70 points or more.
Both teams got off to a slow start on Saturday evening shooting a combined 8-for-30 through the first 10 minutes of play. Texas took advantage of an 6:56 Oklahoma scoreless stretch in the half to climb out to a game-high 10 point lead. Oklahoma was able to put together a late surge to cut the halftime deficit to just five points. The Sooners’ 24-point performance in the first half matched their worst point total for a single half on the season.
In the second half, both teams found their rhythm offensively. Senior Christian James came out of the locker room with a purpose scoring 16 of his 20 points in the second half. The Sooners used a 25-15 scoring run to regain the lead midway through the second period of action. Both teams traded the lead throughout the remaining minutes. However, the biggest play may have been a costly turnover by James in the final two minutes with Oklahoma trailing by a single point. The teams traded three-point baskets after that turnover, but the Sooners were not able to recover. Texas made their final three shots to seal the victory.
The Longhorns shooting woes continued in Saturday’s game as they shot just 22.7 percent from behind-the-arc. Texas leads the Big 12 conference in three point attempts (462), but have not shot efficiently, ranking seventh in the Conference (32.4 percent). Texas did a fantastic job keeping the Sooners off the glass holding them to just 32 total rebounds, ten under their average.
Kerwin Roach III was the only Longhorn that had the scoring touch in the first half as his game-high 23 points came from all over the court. His improved mid-range game was on display as well as knocking down timely three point shots in the first half of action. Roach has had a roller coaster of a season on the offensive end of the court. However, the one consistent thing has been his athleticism. Roach is able to get to the rim with speed and is capable of finishing through contact. Although he doesn’t have great length, his athleticism allows him to defend multiple guard positions effectively.
Forward Dylan Osetkowski had one of his best games of his senior season on Saturday evening. Not only did he register his fifth double-double performance of the year, the manner in which he played was reminiscent of his high points last season. Osetkowski was aggressively driving to the rim off the catch and creating opportunities for his teammates. He is one of the most effective playmakers on the team when playing with his back to the basket. Osetkowski still does not trust his jump shot as he passed on multiple open looks from outside, but the energy and aggressiveness he played with against the Sooners was a welcome sight for the Longhorn faithful.
Despite the mistake late in the game, James was the best player for Oklahoma through much of Saturday’s game. Although his 20 points led the team, he racked up those points quietly and without any pompous celebration. James’ shooting form is solid with a good, high release allowing him to convert in multiple offensive situations. His movement around the court is silky smooth, and he plays with a high level confidence that can be seen from the stands. He has a strong, solid build for his position, and can effectively play off the ball or as the primary ball handler / scoring option.
Texas (11-7) will head north to take on instate foe TCU on Wednesday (1/23). Oklahoma (13-5) will travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State also on Wednesday.