Program win No. 1,800 is proving elusive for Texas Basketball.
Fresh off a devastating 59-44 loss to I-35 rival Baylor, in which the Longhorns scored their fewest points under head coach Shaka Smart, Texas couldn’t find the rebound it was searching for against Oklahoma in the first part of the Red River Rivalry basketball edition. After a gritty, gut-it-out first half that mostly saw Texas in control, a sloppy second half wasn’t enough to keep the Horns in it down the stretch during Wednesday night’s 72-62 loss to the Sooners.
“Going into the second half, there were stretches where we were playing really well, and then there were other stretches where we needed to be better,” junior guard Matt Coleman said. ”At the end of the day, that's what we have to do — just be better. We came to Texas to win.”
In the first half, Texas couldn’t have bounced back in a better way. The stagnant, unenthused offense the Longhorns exhibited against Baylor went by the wayside. Ball movement was plentiful, open shots were regular and rebounding was much improved.
The stage was set and the Frank Erwin Center packed for what would have been Smart’s fifth consecutive home win against Oklahoma. Texas took a 29-20 lead in the first 13 minutes.
“Obviously they were making some plays, making some shots, but you’re up nine points,” Smart said. “That’s a point in the game where you’ve got to grab hold of it, go take the game, and obviously we didn’t.”
While Texas exhibited a strong, improved performance in the first 15 minutes, a three-minute scoring drought to end the opening half allowed Oklahoma to climb back. A contested 15-foot turnaround baseline jumper from guard Austin Reaves put the Sooners up 34-33 at the intermission.
The second half wasn’t nearly as comfortable for Texas fans.
Although Oklahoma’s lead never grew beyond five until the last six minutes, the Sooners undoubtedly dominated the second half.
Texas was held to less than 37% shooting from the field and only connected three times from deep after hitting five in the first half.
After a back-and-forth battle through the first 10 minutes, the Longhorns’ 19% three-point shooting dug a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
“When we shoot the ball the way we did tonight, the way we did (against Baylor), it certainly creates a smaller margin for error,” Smart said.
For the first time under Smart, Texas is 0–2 to Big 12 play.
"It’s definitely a very, very disappointing stretch,” Smart said. ”At the same time, I believe our guys will be better. You have to have that belief the next time you walk in the locker room."
Although Texas dropped consecutive games to start Big 12 play, shooting below 38% in both games, the good news is the Longhorns get another home game Saturday against Kansas State.
Even so, players such as junior forward Jericho Sims, one of Texas’ few bright spots in the past two games, with double-doubles in each, and Coleman have been particularly harsh on themselves.
When asked about his mindset following the loss, Coleman said, “Just be better.”
“(We need to) put a 40-minute game together,” Coleman said. “It’s just now about raising our level of urgency in Big 12 play where it matters the most.”