NORMAN — Every conference win is cherished.
Even ugly ones.
Oklahoma struggled shooting Tuesday night but rode a solid defensive outing to pull away for a 64-55 win over Texas Tech in front of 5,276 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
“Not necessarily a pretty win but a good win,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “I thought both teams worked really hard all night long. Defensively both teams had the other out of rhythm.”
OU opened conference play against three nationally ranked teams and Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.
Texas Tech, winless in league play, was the one game, possibly the only Big 12 game, where the Sooners were double-digit favorites.
The Sooners never trailed in the second half, but the lead was only 48-47 with 4:17 remaining.
That's when OU's defense, solid most of the game, produced three consecutive stops that helped the Sooners close out a hard-fought win.
“Defensively, the activity was pretty good all night,” Kruger said. “They missed some open shots, but defensively I think we created a little activity that caused some of that.”
Highlighting the strong defensive showing was Texas Tech freshman forward Jordan Tolbert, the Red Raiders' leading scorer. He scored only five points on 1-of-10 shooting.
“He's active driving the ball from the elbow,” Kruger said. “He does a lot of things. We just tried to get some people around him and make his efforts as difficult as we possibly could.”
Mixing in an occasional 1-2-2 zone that's been an effective wrinkle in recent weeks, the Sooners held the Red Raiders to 32.6 percent shooting.
The Sooners, though, didn't shoot it much better — 39 percent — which is why they were unable to build a comfortable lead.
Was it frustrating?
“Yes. Very frustrating,” said OU guard Steven Pledger.