NORMAN — Romero Osby called his teammate Amath M'Baye's name and as they ran toward each other, they leapt into the air and shouted, celebrating another Oklahoma victory, 73-67 over Texas, but also celebrating Osby's dominance.
The Sooners (13-4 overall, 4-1 Big 12) were up against arch-rival Texas, a team that carried the best defensive field goal percentage in the conference and second in the nation coming into the game. OU finished shooting 48.1 percent from the field on Monday night as a Lloyd Noble Center crowd of 7,335 watched.
In a must-win conference game for Oklahoma, Osby was too fast for his rookie defenders and too solid for any other defender. The senior power forward scored a career-high 29 points. He also had eight rebounds.
“We really believe that Osby's one of the best players in the league,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said after his club fell to 8-10 and 0-5.
Through shot selection — only putting up six shots from 3-point range — and a lack of production from Texas' starters — only 23 points from its starters — the Sooners played off Osby's energy and rhythm before they return to the road for games against Kansas then Baylor.
The game started off a mess for Texas. After scoring on their opening possession, the Longhorns committed nine straight turnovers. The first half was sloppy for both teams.
Osby started off being guarded mainly by Texas sophomore Jonathan Holmes. The Longhorns forward only played eight minutes, though, due to a broken hand. Then Prince Ibeh began to guard Osby, but there were multiple times he gave Oklahoma's senior a three-point play by fouling him on a layup.
“I had an opportunity a couple times to attack the bigs,” Osby said. “I attacked them once and got an easy bucket so I started to be more aggressive.”
He guided the team, slammed a dunk and shouted to the crowd as they clapped and shouted his name.
“Good job Roe! You got it!” they shouted.
Osby's performance was coupled with M'Baye's dunks. The junior forward had three alley-oops that made Lloyd Noble Center erupt with shouts. Two of the lobs came from freshman Buddy Hield and one came from senior reserve Sam Grooms.
With M'Bayes dunks and 14 points from Osby, the Sooners went into halftime up 30-26.
It was a different scene from about 50 hours earlier, when Osby struggled in the first half against Kansas State. His second half drive wasn't able to propel his teammates to a road victory.
Not in Norman. Osby's second half was just as hot as the first. He made a 3-pointer (his third of the season), grabbed some rebounds and had a put back that he ripped from the hands of two Texas defenders.
As the clock expired and the student chanted, “Osby, Osby,” the senior forward smiled as he waved at fans and walked around the court to give high fives. He was back in his role as Oklahoma's leader, but Osby saw it a bit differently.
“It was just a testament to my teammates, and coach is running stuff form me,” Osby said. “The 29 points came from them and things were just clicking a little bit for me tonight.”