Oklahoma basketball: Red River season finale carries Big 12 implications

Mar 3, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Matt Coleman III (2) shoots the ball over Oklahoma Sooners guard De'Vion Harmon (11) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Matt Coleman III (2) shoots the ball over Oklahoma Sooners guard De'Vion Harmon (11) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports /

ESPN. Pick'em. 8 PM CT. 15-7. 467. 14-8. 464. Thursday, March 4

Oklahoma basketball closes out the 2020-21 regular season with a game of prime importance and a Red River Showdown against the hated Texas Longhorns.

The Sooners won the first game between the two teams this season, escaping with an 80-79 victory in Austin. The Longhorns were missing a couple of players and their head coach for that game, and they are itching for a return shot at Oklahoma with a full roster and head coach Shaka Smart available.

Austin Reaves had 23 points for Oklahoma in the earlier win over the Longhorns. He missed the next two games for the Sooners due to COVID contact tracing. It was Reaves’ two free throws with 18.3 seconds remaining in the game that sealed the deal.

Oklahoma owns a 57-41 advantage in the all-time series between these two longtime rivals and has won three of the last four meetings. The Sooners are 29-13 against the Longhorns in Norman.

The Oklahoma-Texas matchup has featured plenty of late drama in recent years. Three different games have been decided at the final buzzer since 2017.

In his freshman season in 2017, the Longhorns’ Andrew Jones fired in a long-range game-winner with 1.8 seconds remaining to give Texas an 84-83 victory in Austin. Two years later, the Sooners retained a two-point win when Jamal Bieniemy blocked an attempted three-point game-winner by Texas’ Matt Coleman III. And last season, it was Coleman again letting loose with a desperate dagger from deep with the clock running down, only this time he banged it in with 0.4 seconds left.

Texas comes to Norman on Thursday winners of two of its last two games, including a three-point win over Kansas. The Sooners, on the other hand, are struggling a little, having lost their last three games after climbing to No. 7 in the national rankings.

Oklahoma is ranked 16th in this week’s Associated Press poll; Texas in one spot higher, at No. 15.

What fans need to know about the Red River rivalry matchup on Thursday

  • The Texas game has huge implications for Oklahoma. A loss could leave the Sooners tied with Texas Tech in the conference standings. If that were the case, Texas Tech would have the tiebreaker by virtue of its two wins this season over the Sooners. That would drop OU to seventh and a No. 7 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. A sad  testament for a team that just a week ago owned second place in the Big 12 standings.
  • Oklahoma is 10-2 playing at home this season, the third best home record in the Big 12.
  • For several weeks now, even before the Sooners lost to Kanas State to begin their current three-game skid, Lon Kruger has been saying OU “needs to be more efficient and effective, especially on the offensive end.”
  • When the Sooners shoot a better percentage than their opponent they are 27-3 over the past two seasons.
  • OU senior guard Austin Reaves leads the Sooners and is second in the Big 12 in scoring with a 17.6 per game.
  • The Sooners lead the Big 12 and rank in the top 20 in the country, committing just 14.7 fouls per game. OU committed 18 in the first-game loss to Oklahoma State and 16 on Monday, and the Cowboys went to the foul line 13 more times than OU. This minus-13 margin could have cost the Sooners both games
  • Texas has four starters averaging at least 10 points a game, led by Andrew Jones (14.8).and Courtney Ramey (13.7). Ramey is the Longhorns’ most dangerous three-point shooter, making 43 percent of his three-balls.
  • Texas is a good rebounding team, which has hurt the Sooners in recent games. Greg Brown III and Jericho Sims of Texas rank fifth and sixth, respectively in the Big 12, both averaging close to seven rebounds per game.


Like the two Oklahoma State games that preceded this one, the Oklahoma game with Texas could easily go either way. Whichever team plays the best over the final five minutes will likely win the game. This is the final home game and regular-season finale  for the Sooners, so they will be hungry to right their ship and end the three-game losing string.

Texas, on the other hand, will be set on reversing the outcome of the earlier game this season between the two teams and show that had it had all of its players available the result would have been different. I believe Oklahoma has the higher motivating factor.

Oklahoma wins by 5+