Oklahoma basketball: Sooners go down for fourth consecutive game

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Trae Young /

It was not a pleasant homecoming for Oklahoma basketball freshman Trae Young, but the Sooners hung close for most of the game before falling 88-78 on Tuesday to Big 12 leader Texas Tech.

Young scored 19 points, but was just 4 for 16 shooting and was 0 for 9 from three-point range, as the Sooners lost for the fourth consecutive game and fell below .500 to 6-7 in Big 12 play. The Sooners have now lost seven of their last nine games, not the momentum, or lack thereof, that you want to see from a team getting ready to head into the postseason.

Oklahoma’s offensive balance was much better than it has been in recent games, with junior Christian James leading the Sooners with a season-high 23 points, including 4 of 8 from three-point range. Jamuni McNeace had a big first half and finished with 11 points and Kameron McGusty, who has been fighting for playing time and to find his stroke all season, hit a couple of clutch three-point shots late to keep OU in the game and added 13 points.

Young, who struggled to get a clear look most of the game due to the length of the Texas Tech defense, had one of his poorest shooting games of the season. This was the first game this season that the nation’s scoring leader failed to make a three-point shot. He finished with four field goals, but was a perfect 11 for 11 from the free-throw line.

The capacity Texas Tech crowd at United Superstores Arena gave Young, who was born in Lubbock, Texas, and is the son of former Red Raider player Rayford Young, a hard time throughout the game

For the first time in as long while, the Oklahoma reserves made an appreciable contribution, outscoring the Texas Tech bench 28-24, thanks to a combined 24 points from McNeace and McGusty. McNeace also led the Sooners with nine rebounds.

Texas Tech was led in the scoring column by senior Keenan Evans, the Big 12’s second leading scorer, who bested his 18-point average with a game-high 26 points, including 4 of 7 from behind the three-point arc. His unimpeded sidestep to the basket, splitting two defenders, ended in a slam-bang, emphatic dunk that put the Red Raiders up by seven with 1:20 to go and brought the 15,000-plus, partisan crowd to its feet.

The Red Raiders closed out the game on a 22-12 run to improve their overall record to 22-4 and 10-3 in the Big 12, a game ahead of 13-time defending conference champion Kansas.

Texas Tech had three starters score in double digits and Niem Stevenson added a dozen off the bench. In addition to the 26 points by Evans, the Red Raiders got 14 points from Norense Odiase and 13 by Zhaire Smith.

Texas Tech shot 48.4 percent for the game. The Sooners also shot well (46.4), but missed shots and turnovers late allowed the Red Raiders to pull away late and put the game away.

So now Oklahoma limps home after a good but losing effort to host Texas in a Red River revenge game on Saturday. The Sooners lost to the Longhorns in Austin, 79-74, a couple of weekends ago.