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Whipped: Red Raiders Take Down Listless Sooners

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

In the span of less than a week, like a burr in the saddle or a fly buzzing around a person's head, Texas Tech has become quite the thorn in the side of college basketball fans across the state of Oklahoma.

After taking down Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Red Raiders used a 10-0 run and tenacious defense in the first half to demoralize Oklahoma Wednesday night. Tech then withstood a furious OU second-half rally to leave Norman with a well-earned 68-60 victory.

The loss was the Sooners' third in the last four games and drops them to 18-7 overall and into a tie for fourth in the Big 12 at 7-5.

Despite the Sooners' rally in the second half, this was a game where Oklahoma was simply out-played from the start.

"I thought Tech just physically whipped us in every way, especially in the first half," OU coach Lon Kruger said.

Cameron Clark led the way for OU with 16 points while Isaiah Cousins had 12. Buddy Hield had maybe the most forgettable game of his young career, hitting just 1-of-13 shots, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range for just three points and four turnovers.

Robert Turner led Tech with 16 points while Jaye Crockett and Dusty Hannahs had 10 points each.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first eight minutes of the game, with the score tied at 10 with 11:54 to go in the first half. At that point, Clark had all 10 of OU's points.

Texas Tech came out of the timeout and put the Sooners on their heels with a 10-0 run over four minutes, aided by five OU turnovers, which led to three transition layups.

The poor play continued throughout the first half, as OU finished the half shooting 28 percent from the field and a woeful 3-of-14 from 3-point range. Not only was the play on the court bad, but also, the Sooners were sloppy with the basketball (11 turnovers) and there was next to nothing in terms of energy.

"We didn't come out ready to play," Clark said. "I saw that from the beginning in warm-ups. We need to get back to playing like we're used to."

The Texas Tech defense did a great job in the first half of shutting down the lane and preventing the Sooners from getting to the rim. The Red Raiders also closed out on shooters well, forcing the Sooners to take tough 3-pointers, which didn't fall very often.

"Once we get stops on defense, your adrenaline rushes," Turner said of the Red Raiders' defensive effort. "Defense makes great offense and that was really big for us tonight."

Oklahoma went into the locker room trailing 37-21, and even though the Sooners came out for the second half with more energy and better flow, Texas Tech quickly extended the lead to 47-27 with 16:27 to go. It seemed as if nothing was going to go the Sooners' way, as Hield couldn't even make a wide-open, breakaway layup with 14:15 to play.

At long last, the Sooners' shots began to fall. Led by a trio of bench players, the Sooners slowly began to creep back into the game. Frank Booker, Tyler Neal and Je'lon Hornbeak poured in 18 points—half of those from Hornbeak—during a 21-4 run over nine minutes that cut the Texas Tech lead to 51-48 with 7:29 remaining and had the paltry Lloyd Noble Center crowd roaring.

The other three points came from a layup-and-one from Cousins that cut the deficit to five.

However, Hannahs came right back down after the Sooners cut it to three points and buried a 3-pointer to push the lead back to six. OU would get no closer the rest of the way.

The two teams exchanged baskets, but Ryan Spangler missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5:14 to go and the Sooners still down six that all but sealed the Sooners' fate.

OU had a terrific chance to get the lead under six with just over a minute remaining, but Cousins chose to attempt an alley-oop lob with Clark instead of taking it to the basket himself. There was a miscommunication, and the ball bounced harmlessly off the backboard into the arms of a Texas Tech defender.

The Sooners return to action on Saturday when they travel to Stillwater for part two of Bedlam against a desperate Oklahoma State team. OU isn't quite to the point of desperation yet, but it would serve the Sooners well to avoid a listless start like the one Wednesday against Texas Tech.

"We just have to approach every game like it is our last," Clark said. "We didn't come our ready to play and we have to learn from this. Everyone is good in the Big 12 and we have to play hard each and every game."

 

Oklahoma Basketball Notebook.

-Oklahoma's 60 points were a season low, as were their 21 points in the first half

-One of the biggest reasons the Sooners lost was the play of Hield and Woodard. Woodard came in averaging 15 points and 6.2 assists per game over the last five games, but had just two points and one assist. His points came with 14 seconds left, well after the game had been decided. Hield averages 17 points and had 21.3 over the past three games.

-Another reason was the free-throw line. Texas Tech hit 20-of-27 freebies while the Sooners were just 6-of-12 from the charity stripe.

-It's never too early to talk about seeding, both for the NCAA tournament and the Big 12 tournament. With the loss, the Sooners put their chances for a bye in the first round of the Big 12 tournament as the No. 2 seed in serious jeopardy. OU currently sits 1.5 games behind Texas with a Mar. 1 clash with the Longhorns in Norman. As for the NCAA tournament, OU is still comfortably in, but could use a nice win or two over the last six games to put the finishing touches on things. Plus, a higher seed would be nice in order to avoid the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the bracket should the Sooners win their first tournament game.

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