Soft only three days ago, No. 20 Texas basketball gets Big 12 overtime road win at OU
NORMAN, Okla. — What a weird-but-wonderful Tuesday night it was in Oklahoma for No. 20 Texas.
Hang around this game long enough, you’ll see it all. On Tuesday, the Lloyd Noble Center shot clocks above the rims didn’t work. So the arena’s public address announcer had to call out whenever the shot clock reached 10 seconds. “Nine … eight … seven …” and so forth.
Working shot clocks are mandatory in the SEC. “It was very distracting,” Texas forward Timmy Allen said with a laugh. “I didn’t like it at all.”
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione handled it in a “first-class” way, UT coach Chris Beard said. On this night, the clock issues were beyond OU’s control.
“I've coached junior college where live microphones are around,” Beard said. “I've also coached in the ABA. They'll advertise a Bud Light special during a free throw shot.”
The crowd was odd, too. This is supposed to be the Red River rivalry. But the 8,124 fans were rather blasé most of the night, at least until overtime when the Sooners took a one-point lead.
It was quite a sight as OU’s public address announcer was shouting “three … two … one” as Allen came out of nowhere to put back Marcus Carr’s miss with 11 seconds left. Listen to the sound of silence as Texas captured a stirring 80-78 win.
“I came up with that one,” Allen said, “but I took a lot of hits trying to crash it.”
This was a gutty Big 12 road win, one Texas (19-7, 8-5) should feel good about. That’s how you cleanse the palate after last Saturday’s disaster against Baylor.
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“I think you’ve got to recognize our guys’ effort tonight,” Beard said while leaning against a glass-paneled door in the arena tunnel. “I liked our poise in the huddle. Didn’t play great defense in the overtime, kind of trading baskets, but we found a way to win.
“Tonight’s a valuable lesson,” Beard added. “We’ll draw from this later on in the season when we need the confidence to win another overtime game.”
Another oddity: Oklahoma coach Porter Moser and his Sooners (14-12, 4-9) were still talking to reporters through Zoom. COVID-19 is still rampant on the OU campus, apparently, although nobody, not even OU administrators, wore masks. Up the interstate, school officials have long since returned to normal at Oklahoma State.
“We’re playing hard enough. We have to play smarter,” Moser said. “Right now, we’re all miserable but we have two choices. Keep fighting. This group has kept fighting.”
Texas needed to show some fight after the Baylor loss. “We’re a lot better than our performance at Baylor,” Allen said.
Allen led the way. He had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The 6-foot-6 senior collected just four rebounds, but they were all offensive boards, and he scored off three of them.
Andrew Jones moved into 12th place on UT’s all-time scoring list with a 20-point outburst. He was 4-for-5 from 3-point range one day after the leukemia survivor tweeted, “4 years in remission today, All glory to God #HappyLoveDay.”
Carr had 16 points, which included going 6-for-10 at the free-throw line. Christian Bishop was simply terrific — 16 points with six rebounds and three assists. He ripped the ball away from an OU player and scored to spark a 15-3 second-half run.
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Bishop threw down a nasty reverse dunk with 3:07 left in the second half, and his man-sized layup from under the basket gave Texas a 77-76 lead in OT.
“That’s my job on the team,” Bishop said. “I’ve got to bring high energy and produce as well. And so just having an opportunity to show off a little bit, get the guys going, was perfect way for me show that.”
Said Allen: “CB just keeps getting better and better. I’ve seen that a lot, so I’m not surprised.”
Texas will need more big performances from their big men going forward. Before the game, Beard said junior forward Tre Mitchell has taken a personal leave of absence. There is no timetable for Mitchell’s return.
“It’s a personal matter, and we support him completely,” Beard told the American-Statesman before the game.
Another forward would have come in handy down the stretch. Texas played the last five minutes of regulation while Bishop, Allen and guard Courtney Ramey all had four fouls.
“No, it doesn't change anything at all,” Bishop said. “Our principles that we follow every single game, we’ve just got to stick to those.”
Playing back on defense allowed the Sooners to crawl back into it. Elijah Harkless scored with some razzle-dazzle ball handling, and Umoja Gibson buried a 3-pointer. Texas’ 63-57 lead was suddenly down to one point.
Allen scored and drew a foul on a terrific jumper, but the Horns couldn’t close it out in regulation when Jones was called for traveling on a leaner. OU’s Ethan Chargois missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and officials added another five minutes on the broken clock.
In the extra period, both teams were a combined 9-for-12 shooting. The winning edge boiled down to Bishop’s impressive layup followed by Harkless’ ill-advised pass into the paint for an OU turnover. Allen’s put-back bucket and Carr’s game-sealing free throw pushed Texas into the winner’s circle.
Overall, Texas shot 49% and had just nine turnovers. Credit Harkless for causing the most harm; he had five steals for the Sooners.
The noise, high-fives and smiles coming out of the visitor’s locker room were loud and unmistakable. It looked like a weight was lifted off the Horns’ shoulders.
Just three days ago, Beard was calling his players soft. On this night, Beard was praising their gutty toughness.
“At this point, mid-February, we’ve shown we can play some really good basketball,” Beard said. “We’ve just got to find consistency. And ultimately, that’s what March is, the teams that are playing their best when it matters most.
“Tonight, we won the game,” the coach added. “But now let's see if we can get better after a win.”