Oklahoma basketball: Breakaways from a much-needed win over Texas Tech

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 08: Matt Mooney #13 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drives to the basket against Aaron Calixte #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the game on January 8, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 08: Matt Mooney #13 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drives to the basket against Aaron Calixte #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the game on January 8, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

There’s little question that the Oklahoma basketball win over No. 22 Texas Tech could be a game-saver for the Sooners when Selection Sunday rolls around in a couple of weeks.

Going into Tuesday’s game with the Red Raiders, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Oklahoma on the 12 line and having to play its way into the NCAA Tournament as one of the last four teams in the preliminary field.

Since the beginning of the year, OU has bounced back and forth between a projected nine seed and a 12 seed, and after a humbling 17-point loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Sooners were dangerously close to playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament.

In three consecutive losses — two of which came against the teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country — Lon Kruger’s team was beginning to look more like a team that had lost its confidence and identity and was struggling to find a way to win.

That was not the case on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, however, as Oklahoma met up with its fourth ranked team in a little over two week’s time.

Texas Tech already owned a victory over the Sooners this season and was coming off of a dominant 30-point win over Iowa State. That set up a rematch between two teams that seemingly were headed in opposite directions.

It was abundantly clear from the start of the OU-Texas Tech soiree, though, that this was not the same Sooner team we have witnessed over the last five halves of basketball. OU set the tone from the start, with an opening three-pointer by Austin Reaves, and quickly jumped out to a 21-6 advantage by the midway point of the first half.

The Sooners took a 32-22 lead into the locker room at halftime, and we’re never really in danger of losing from that point on. Reaves led the way in the first half, scoring all 11 of his points, including draining three of four three-pointers, and Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek took over offensively in the second half as the Sooners expanded their lead to 18 points late in the second half and won going away, 65-51.

The home team in this series has now won nine of the last 10 games.

Here are five main breakaways that tell the story of this important Oklahoma victory:

Return of the Big Three

For the first time in quite a while, the OU Big Three of Kristian Doolittle, Brady Manek and Austin Reaves all scored in double figures in the same game. It was only the fourth time in 15 Big 12 games that all three have reached double figures in the same game.

The Sooner trio contributed 45 of Oklahoma’s 65 points in the win over Texas Tech. A fourth starter, Jamal Bieniemy, added 11 more. When the Sooner Big Three all score in double figures, Oklahoma is 10-2 this season, and they definitely were the catalyst in this victory, with Doolittle, broken nose and all, leading the way with 19 points.

Aggressiveness on the boards

it is rare this season when the Sooners outrebound their opponent, but they did it against the Red Raiders, and with authority. Oklahoma had a plus-14 rebound margin (43-29) and 12 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points. Manek and Doolittle each grabbed seven rebounds and Reaves came away with eight.

Tenacious defense

Oklahoma held Texas Tech to just 51 points in the game, their lowest scoring output of the season, and the Red Raiders, the second best shooting team in the Big 12 shot only 33.3 percent for the game and 27 percent in the first half.

Jahmi’us Ramsey, who averages nearly 16 points a game for Texas Tech, was held scoreless, missing all eight of his shot attempts. The Red Raiders’ top three scorers on the season — Ramsey, Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards, who average 41 points a game, combined for just 11 on Tuesday against the Sooners.

Total dominance

Oklahoma dominated this game from start to finish. Texas Tech never led in the game. The Red Raiders, who usually play outstanding defense, couldn’t shut down the Big Three of OU, and the Sooners shot nearly 47 percent as a team. The Sooners scored 36 points in close to the basket in the painted area, more than half of their total for the game.

About the only thing Oklahoma did not do well in this game was take care of the ball. The Sooners, who lead the Big 12 in committing the fewest turnovers per game (11.1 per game), committed an uncharacteristic 17 in this game. Because they did so well in nearly every other statistical area, they were able to overcome the sloppy ball handling.

Don’t stop now

Oklahoma got a big resume boost with a quad one win over Texas Tech, but with another game of huge importance coming up on Saturday against 20th-ranked West Virginia, the Sooners can ill afford to rest on their laurels. The Mountaineers lost earlier in Norman, and have dropped five of their last six games, including the 69-59 loss to Oklahoma.

Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers are going to be loaded for bear when the Sooners arrive in town. One big win over a ranked team this week is grand, but two would be that much grander.