OU basketball: 3 takeaways from Sooners' upset of Texas
OU had little going its way.
For nearly the final 4 minutes, the Sooners did not make a shot. Short-handed Texas was rallying despite the odds.
But even when things got really chaotic in the final seconds, the Sooners picked up a huge opening win in a three-game gauntlet against top-10 teams.
The 24th-ranked Sooners survived a furious comeback by short-handed No. 5 Texas on Tuesday night in Austin, Texas, for a wild 80-79 upset.
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OU led 80-77 with 18.3 seconds remaining until Texas’ Andrew Jones made two free shots with 5 seconds remaining. After a Texas timeout, the Sooners nearly turned the ball over on the inbound when Texas knocked the pass into Jalen Hill’s hands as he stepped inbounds.
After a review, he was ruled in play. He then missed a free shot with 2 seconds remaining. His second miss was on purpose, but it was way too hard off the backboard, missing the rim for a violation.
OU’s Elijah Harkless then intercepted the long inbounds pass to seal the game.
“We’ll have to work on missing free throws, I guess,” OU coach Lon Kruger said.
OU is now 9-4 overall and 6-3 in Big 12 play entering Saturday’s game against No. 9-ranked Alabama as part of the Big 12/SEC series.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
OU’s depth wins out
Kruger said he found out just before the game that Texas would not only be without coach Shaka Smart due to COVID-19, but also three key players.
But OU’s depth — a huge advantage most of the season — was still challenged by the Longhorns.
Without Courtney Ramey, Jericho Sims and Brock Cunningham while also facing foul issues, the Longhorns nearly erased a 12-point deficit in the second half.
OU ultimately had four guys score in double figures and 10 different players checked into the game. De’Vion Harmon had 13 points, while Umoja Gibson added 12 and Harkless finished with 11.
“Having other guys step in and play their minutes well, that is huge,” Kruger said. “It’s really big, whether it be injury or COVID or foul trouble. It’s great to be able to play 10 or 11 guys.”
Texas’ depth was severely challenged, too.
Three players fouled out, including stars Matt Coleman III and Greg Brown. The Longhorns committed 29 fouls, putting OU in the bonus less than 5 minutes into the second half.
But the Sooners had their own foul concerns. Victor Iwuakor, who had four points and five rebounds, fouled out. Harkless played through four fouls.
Playing through this only adds to the Sooners’ confidence moving forward.
“Against a string of top-10 teams here, you need to be playing with confidence,” Kruger said. “Certainly happy for the guys getting another one out on the road.”
Reaves’ big night
Reaves appeared to be running out of real estate as he dribbled to the baseline against Texas’ Andrew Jones.
He thought he was fouled. So, he threw up a prayer of a shot as he drifted behind the basket. Somehow, the high-arcing shot fell as no foul was called. It was like a game of H-O-R-S-E.
It was the wildest play of a big night for the senior point guard.
“I just shot it to go to the free-throw line, but it went in,” Reaves said. “So, I mean, I guess it’s a good shot then.”
Reaves scored 23 points, making 7 of 15 shots. He also had four assists and six rebounds. He hit two big free shots with 18.3 seconds remaining.
He also came up with big 3-pointers when needed.
Like after the Longhorns cut the Sooners’ lead to four midway through the final half. Hill hit his third 3 of the night. Reaves followed with a deep trey on a pullup for a 68-60 advantage.
Reaves also made three free shots right before the half, drawing a foul with 1.2 seconds. OU led 43-34 at the break.
“He was just terrific,” Kruger said. “He controlled a lot of it all night long. His experience certainly came through.”
Big first-half run
The Sooners’ offense was floundering early. They made just 3 of their first 15 shots, falling behind 14-6.
But that changed super quickly.
OU made its next eight shots and rattled off a 13-0 run in less than 2 minutes. Suddenly, it was 19-14 and the Sooners were in control.
Here’s how the strong sequence happened:
*A jumper by Reaves followed by a missed jumper from Coleman.
*Gibson made a jumper and free shot. Jones then missed a 3.
*Harmon then made a jump shot. Gibson stole the inbound pass and made a layup as he was fouled, then completed the three-point play.
*Kai Jones’ layup was blocked by Kur Kuath, setting up a fast-break 3-pointer by Harmon.
Finally, Texas’ Donovan Williams ended the run with a jumper.
“We really just stuck to what we were going to do and then it all fell in place,” Reaves said about the run. “We listened to Coach, his gameplan, and really we just stuck to that and executed it better.”