Oklahoma basketball: Sooners’ Red River collapse costs them a share of Big 12 lead

AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 3: Trae Young /

The woes of Oklahoma basketball away from home this season continued on Saturday, and this time the Sooners’ 79-74 loss at Texas cost them a share of the Big 12 lead.

The 12th-ranked Sooners were in control and led for almost 30 minutes against archrival Texas. Unfortunately, though, you have to keep playing to the end, or a full 40 minutes. Oklahoma was unable to do that, and it resulted in a disappointing fifth consecutive road loss.

It was Trae Young’s passing and not his scoring that had the Longhorns on their heels in the opening half. The nation’s scoring and assist leader dished out 10 dimes in the opening 20 minutes, many of them leading to slam dunks and easy layups.

The Sooners had 18 points in the paint in the first 10 minutes of the game on their way to an unbelievable 54 points in the paint for the game. This despite the presence of Texas’ seven-foot freshman and premier shot-blocker Mohamed Bamba.

Oklahoma (16-6, 6-4) led from the 14-minute mark of the first half until 5:01 remained in the game, and the Sooners were up by seven, 66-57, following three free throws by Young and a dunk by Jamuni McNeace with 7:56 to go. That’s when the flow and momentum of the game took a dramatic turn, and not in the Sooners’ favor.

The Longhorns scored 22 of the next 32 point in the game, grabbing the lead at the 5:01 mark on an uncontested layup by Matt Coleman and leaving the stunned Sooners in their wake.

From the five-minute mark to the end of the game, it was Texas in complete control, aided by successive Oklahoma turnovers in the critical final two minutes.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

Oklahoma shot well against the Longhorns, they played solid defense for a good part of the game, and they received valuable contributions from their bench for the first time in a long while. So what happened to lead to the Sooners; fourth defeat in their last six games?

The defining point in the game was during a three-minute stretch between the eight- and five-minute mark of the second half. With Oklahoma leading by nine points, the Sooners came up empty on five successive offensive possessions, missing a pair of shots and committing three turnovers. Meanwhile, the Longhorns scored 13 consecutive points to erase the OU advantage and take a four-point lead of their own, 70-66 with 3:52 remaining in the game.

The Sooners still had a good chance to make a comeback, trailing 74-70 with under two minutes to go, but the ball was stolen from Young on two consecutive trips down the floor, and his ill-advised, off-balance three-point attempt on a third possession missed the mark. In the meantime, Texas cashed in a pair of free throws, and an emphatic rim-rattling dunk by the Longhorns’ Bamba sealed the Sooners’ fate.

Rashard Odomes made a layup with four seconds remaining for two of his 15 points to make the final score look closer than it really was at the end.

Trae Young has been the force behind most of Oklahoma’s 16 wins this season, but as great a player as he is, it was his inexperience and poor decision-making in the final minutes against Texas on Saturday that cost the Sooners a good chance of pulling out a victory over their hated rival.

The talented Sooner point guard tried to do too much down the stretch to get his team back in the game, and it may have actually cost them the game.

Young’s final stat line was 19 points, 14 assists, five rebounds, two steals, and five turnovers. It was his third lowest scoring output of the season, but the second time in the last three games that his has been held below 20 points, almost 10 points below his nation-best season average.

The Sooners are going to need to regroup fast, with No. 15 West Virginia coming to Norman for a Monday night game.