The Longhorns had a chance to steal one in Norman, Oklahoma, on Tuesday night.
Big nights from sophomore guard Kendal Yancy and freshman forward Myles Turner had the Longhorns up 5 with 3:34 left. The offense was running smoothly, and the defense was playing hard. It looked as though Texas had No. 17 Oklahoma on the ropes in what could have been a huge conference road win for head coach Rick Barnes and company.
Then Oklahoma sophomore guard Jordan Woodard hit a three. Senior forward TaShawn Thomas followed with a three-point play. Woodard finished an acrobatic layup, and junior forward Ryan Spangler found himself free for a layup on a pick-and-roll.
And, just like that, Texas (17–9, 6–7 Big 12) let one slip right through its hands as Oklahoma escaped, 71–69.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Barnes said. “We’re close, but close doesn’t get it done.”
Yancy, who started his fourth straight game, hit big shots for the Longhorns and seems to be finding his confidence. Yancy tied his career high in points with 14 while bringing down six boards.
But with the game on the line and the Longhorns down 2 with just seconds left, it was senior forward Jonathan Holmes who took the big shot for the Longhorns and clanked a deep three from dead on.
Texas almost overcame its turnover problem and ran a smooth offense for most of the game. Oklahoma forced Texas into 13 turnovers, at times instilling a full-court press. The Sooners, on the other hand, took good care of the rock, committing only five turnovers. Texas, despite having athletic players across the board, currently sits last — by a large margin — in the conference in forced turnovers.
For weeks, Texas has been in the zone defense, but against Oklahoma and its plethora of shooters, Texas went back to a man defense. Until the end, the defense was strong, as it held Oklahoma to 36 percent shooting. Turner and junior center Prince Ibeh protected the rim, assisting in a team-record-tying 13 blocks.
After a slow start, Turner turned in his second straight double-double. He scored 17 points with 10 boards and six blocks.
“I feel more confident,” Turner said. “But I still feel like I need to get the ball in the post, that mid-range area.”
Junior guard Javan Felix was efficient with his shots today, as he was perfect from downtown to score 10 points on just six shots.
While Turner, Yancy and Felix turned in admirable performances in a tough road environment, Holmes and sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor disappointed. Holmes was 1-of-6 from deep, with the one being a meaningless, open shot at the buzzer. Taylor was 1-of-10 from the field and disappeared late in the game.
“We just put so much pressure on [Taylor] to do good things,” Yancy said. “On this bus ride home, I’m going to check on him.”
As a team, Texas struggled yet again from long range, connecting on just 8-of-23. Inside the arc, however, Texas shot 50 percent.