Here’s a sobering thought for Texas basketball optimists. With a loss Monday to Oklahoma at the Erwin Center, the Longhorns would’ve officially become the worst team in the Big 12.
That’s right, last place in the Big 12 standings. For the time being, anyway.
Andrew Jones refused to let it happen. The freshman swished a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1.8 seconds left as the Longhorns snapped a five-game losing skid with a thrilling 84-83 win in front of an announced crowd of 10,898.
On OU’s ensuing possession after a timeout, James Banks tipped the inbound pass just enough that the Sooners couldn’t get a clean look, and a raucous home crowd was giving it a full-throated “OU sucks” chant during the fight song.
Texas (8-12, 2-6 Big 12) did practically everything right in this Red River shootout — for the first 38 minutes. Shaq Cleare scored a career-high 23 points, and Eric Davis Jr. hit five 3-pointers. Jones deserves special mention for his defensive rotations alone and three steals.
But the Sooners got an eye-popping 29 points from Kristian Doolittle, who came into the game averaging 7.8, and appeared to take control with an 83-78 lead. But Davis hit a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left. Then, OU’s Kameron McGusty missed two free throws. That gave the Horns one last shot. Once Jones got the ball, he let it fly and never moved, watching it swish right through the net.
Shaq Cleare has shown a soft touch around the rim all season long. Against OU, he was hitting on all cylinders and worked up a new career high in scoring on 10 of 14 shooting. You knew Cleare was clicking when the Sooners started running to double team him instead of Allen, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Cleare’s previous career high was 14 points, most recently against Baylor last Tuesday.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Surely the Sooners aren’t this bad at passing the ball, right? Oklahoma had only one assist int he first half on 15 made field goals. The Sooners had only three on 22 buckets through 33 minutes. Doolittle was clearly having an other-worldly night, scoring from practically every open spot on the floor. OU didn’t get another assist in the final seven minutes, either.
Texas had just an awful start on Saturday against Kansas. This was much better. The Horns had only one turnover in the first four minutes and took an early 15-6 lead. Then, UT’s defense fueled some easy buckets. Roach snagged a steal out of the half-court press and got it to Davis for a corner 3-pointer. Then, Jones took another steal and went in for a two-handed flush. The Horns had a 9-0 run and led 24-15.
Jones’ dunk was the last bucket Texas would get for a while as the Sooners went a little run of their own. Christian James scored off the break, Rashard Odomes got a bucket and Kristian Doolittle scored seven points himself as OU put together an 11-0 clip and took a two-point lead. For as good as the defensive effort was in Texas’ run, the coaching staff will break down OU’s 11-0 spurt and probably hit that clip hard come Tuesday.
The Longhorns gets a break from Big 12 play on Saturday but not a day off. Texas will travel to face Georgia (12-7) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The day is full of cross-conference games for mostly TV purposes. UT will then reach the halfway point in the Big 12 schedule when the team returns home to face Texas Tech on Feb. 1.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email email@example.com.