With leading scorer Kerwin Roach II serving an indefinite suspension, Texas trailed by 17 in the second half in a road rematch against Oklahoma. But with six seconds left in Norman, all of that was for naught, as the Longhorns were a three away from fulfilling a dramatic comeback.
Texas power forward Dylan Osetkowski secured a rebound off an Oklahoma missed free throw and dished it to the team’s floor general, Matt Coleman III. Coleman didn’t have time to waste. He crossed half court and pulled up just before the arc, firing a hopeful projectile toward the basket.
In a clean rejection, the ball failed to travel even one foot forward thanks to the impeccable timing of Oklahoma’s Jamal Bieniemy. The Longhorns (15–12, 7–7 Big 12) stumbled off the floor with a 69-67 loss to the Sooners (17–10, 5–9 Big 12), their sixth loss in their past seven visits to Norman.
“When we got the rebound, there’s a certain amount of time under which you want to call a timeout so you can throw the ball up the floor, and there’s a certain amount of time where you want your guys to attack,” head coach Shaka Smart told Texas Sports following the game. “In retrospect, we needed to get the ball down the floor faster. By the time Matt got down there, he had try to go make a play and they made a good defensive stop.”
Texas asserted its dominance over Oklahoma in the second half, limiting the Sooners to just 27 points. But the first half couldn’t have developed any rockier for the Longhorns. Oklahoma connected on 6-of-9 threes in the opening 20 minutes, and shooting guard Christian James chipped in 14 points against a struggling Texas defense, causing a 42-28 separation at halftime.
“When you hold a team to 27 points in the second half, that’s how you go on the road and win,” Smart said. “Unfortunately, we gave them 42 in the first half. I thought our defensive intensity and attention to detail in the first half wasn’t where it needed to be.”
In the second half, the Longhorns established a more consistent offense. Down low, Osetkowski and center Jaxson Hayes utilized their advantages in the strength department to chip away at the deficit. The frontcourt duo combined for 25 points on 66.7 percent shooting. Defensively, Hayes was a menace in the paint, powerfully rejecting a career-high six attempts to form a forcefield around the restricted area.
Texas’ comeback effort also received a boost from the perimeter. Starting in Roach’s place, guard Jase Febres, who had a team-high 15 points, let it fly from three all afternoon. The sophomore attempted 15 triples and drained five, including two in the final three minutes. Down two with 12 seconds to go, Febres stared down an opportunity at a go-ahead three. But his highly contested look barely grazed the rim, and Oklahoma gained possession.
Then, small forward Kristian Doolittle bricked the Sooners’ front end of a 1-and-1, leading to Coleman’s blocked three at the buzzer.
Texas continues its challenging Big 12 schedule on the road, traveling to Waco for a matchup with Baylor on Wednesday. Roach’s status throughout the rest of the season is unknown, but the suspension is in the hands of the University, not Shaka Smart, per Brian Davis of the Austin-American Statesman. Regardless, Smart is confident with whatever cards are in his hand moving forward.
“We’ve played at times without Snoop,” Smart said. “Especially on the defensive end, you shouldn’t be that dependent on one other guy to do what you work on doing every day.”