No. 6 Texas opens Big 12 play with a thrilling 70-69 win at Oklahoma

Matthew Caldwell, Associate Sports Editor

No. 6 Texas started Big 12 play in Norman on Saturday against Oklahoma, who entered the game with a 9–3 record. The Longhorns, under the leadership of interim head coach Rodney Terry, have strung together five straight wins.

From tipoff, the two teams were physical, going back and forth with neither able to take a big lead.

The Longhorns were able to do most of their damage from inside the paint and beyond the arc, with senior forwards Christian Bishop and Dylan Disu combining for 10 in the first half thanks to Oklahoma forward Tanner Groves getting into early foul trouble. Freshman guard Arterio Morris also contributed a pair of threes.

But Oklahoma ended the half on a 12-4 run led by Grant Sherfield, who ended the half with 16 points, leading the Sooners to a 35-31 lead.

The Longhorns forced 10 turnovers in the first half, but were unable to convert those turnovers into points. Oklahoma only forced 6 turnovers but scored more points off of those than Texas did.

Graduate student guard Marcus Carr finally found his rhythm, adding a quick five points to Texas’ total. But Oklahoma would answer, going on a 6-0 run and hoisting their lead back to four, forcing the Longhorns to call a timeout with 7:31 remaining.

Coming out of the timeout, Texas ran a play that went straight at Groves, giving the Oklahoma big his fourth foul and a spot on the bench for the next couple of minutes.

With the Sooners playing their small ball lineup, graduate student guard Sir’Jabari Rice found an open lane and slammed it home, tying the game at 55 with 5:48 to go.

Oklahoma forwards Jalen Hill and Jacob Groves stepped up in the second half, contributing most of the Sooners’ field goals, including three 3-pointers late, giving Oklahoma a one point lead with 4:07 remaining.

An untimely scoring drought found the Longhorns down by three until Rice drew a smart foul on a three-point attempt. He calmly sank all of his free throws, tying the game at 60-60 with 2:07 to play.

With 0:48 left, Carr hit a tough fadeaway to give Texas the lead. A stop right after forced the Sooners to foul Rice, sending him to the line for a 1-and-1.

After sinking both, Sherfield got an easy layup and Rice was sent to the line yet again, where he sank both free throws again.

With 4.3 seconds remaining, T. Groves had a putback layup bringing it within two. But Carr finally put the game away with two free throws, extending the Longhorns’ winning streak and starting off Big 12 play with a 70-69 win in a tough environment behind Carr and senior forward Timmy Allen’s 13 points each.

Texas’ close win to open up Big 12 play in the toughest basketball conference in the country capped off a turbulent December in a positive manner. 

“This was a great team win,” Terry said. “Every guy came in and gave us a great contribution.”

The Longhorns are back in action at home against Kansas State on Tuesday night.