By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
OU closed out another impressive conference win on Monday night, holding off Texas 73-67 in Lloyd Noble. Here’s some rapid reaction:
After opening up a late double-digit lead — and allowing their surprisingly rowdy crowd to serenade the Longhorns with a ‘Just like football’ chant — the Sooners were suddenly in danger. UT big man Ioannis Papapetrou drilled two hail mary threes and a Longhorn tip-in seemed destined to cut the OU lead to three. But the ball somehow bounced out, and into the hands of the Sooners.
It was over when…
…OU secured that rebound. From there, it was a foul and free throw fest. The Sooners hit their freebies and the Longhorns (what else is new?) missed their proceeding shots.
Star of the game – Romero Osby
The Sooners’ top offensive option was relatively quiet in the loss at Kansas State on Saturday, scoring little and asserting himself less. But that wasn’t a problem Monday night, when Osby shouldered the Sooners offensive load with intensity and skill. The senior put up a career-high 29 points on an impressive 9/15 shooting and 10/11 from the line, while also chipping in eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Impressive outing for a guy starting to make All-Big 12 noise.
Rising – OU’s tourney hopes
What a job Lon Kruger has done. Less than two years after taking over this floundering program, the Sooners are now considered an upstart team with legitimate tournament intentions. They’re winning plenty (now 13-4 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12) and doing it with an exciting brand of basketball. OU converted at least four alley-oops on Monday, many of the acrobatic variety, and had a raucous Lloyd Noble Center (in comparison to recent years) on its feet. This program is healthier than its been since the Griffins laced them up in Norman.
Falling – Texas’ hoops program
Forget the NCAA tournament. And the NIT. And the CBI. At this point, Rick Barnes’ struggling crew is concerned about winning a game. The Longhorns are now 8-10 overall and 0-5 in conference play. They’ve lost five straight, the first time that’s happened in Barnes’ 14 years in Austin, and look lost on offense. The coaching seat in Austin is heating up.
Stat of the night
The Sooners captured their 13th win and fourth conference victory of the season Monday night. They had 15 and five all of last year.
Photo of the game
Twenty-one combined first half turnovers for the teams. It felt like 210.
Big one for the Sooners on Saturday. They travel to the vaunted Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence for a battle with #3 Kansas. Toughest test of the season.