OU men's basketball: Takeaways from the Sooners' 57-52 loss to Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas — OU's win streak is over, but the Sooners didn't go away quietly.
The Sooners pushed No. 13 Texas Tech to the wire but the Red Raiders hit their free throws late as Texas Tech knocked off the No. 9 Sooners 57-52.
OU had won five consecutive games — the last three over top-10 opponents — before falling Monday.
The game was a defensive battle throughout, with the teams shooting just 33.3% each from the field. The Sooners were just 6 of 22 from behind the 3-point line.
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The Sooners trailed by 10 with less than 3:30 remaining before a quick eight-point burst gave OU life.
But Texas Tech was 7 of 8 at the free-throw line in the final 1:13 to hold on.
Here are three other takeaways from the loss:
Ball movement not easy
Offense was hard to come by for both teams but the Sooners especially struggled on that end of the floor.
Without leading scorer — and assist man — Austin Reaves for the second consecutive game, the Sooners couldn't come up with much in the way of offensive flow.
OU managed just three assists — none in the first half.
The first two assisted baskets happened in the first four minutes of the second half.
The Sooners didn't get another until 1:01 remaining when Elijah Harkless — who had been writhing on the floor in pain just moments earlier — drove toward the basket and found Umoja Gibson in the corner for a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two, 52-50.
OU hadn't had fewer than nine assists in any game this season.
It was tied for the fewest assists for the Sooners in the Kruger era. The only other time the Sooners had three assists since Kruger took over the program in 2011-12 was Jan. 23, 2017 against Texas.
Reaves is expected to return for Saturday's game against Iowa State.
Manek comes up big again
After finally finding some success offensively in Saturday's win over Alabama, Brady Manek once again played a key role at Texas Tech.
Manek spent much of the game at center as Lon Kruger elected to go with a smaller lineup.
Kur Kuath started in the middle but Manek entered the game less than three minutes in.
Kuath played just 11 minutes — spending the final nine minutes on the bench.
Manek had 11 points, going 4 of 10 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers in 29 minutes. He also had seven rebounds.
The 29 minutes were the most for Manek since missing two games in early January due to COVID-19.
Manek had averaged just less than 16 minutes per game during his first four games back.
"I thought he gave us a good lift getting down a couple threes there in the second half," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "Looked more like himself for sure and I'm sure he's feeling like there's a ways to go but definitely moving in a good direction.
"Like where he's trending."
Slowing down McClung
Mac McClung had been among the most explosive offensive players in the Big 12 this season.
He hadn't scored fewer than 16 in any Big 12 game this season but finished with just six points — all at the free-throw line.
The Sooners made it difficult for McClung to find much room to work. He finished 0 of 7 from the floor, and 0 for 5 from behind the 3-point line.
"McClung is such a good player," Kruger said. "I thought the guys worked hard to take away what he likes to do most. We did a good job there. We fouled him a couple of times late, He got to his right hand downhill, but overall we did a really good job on a really good player."
All of McClung's points came in the final nine minutes.
After a stellar defensive effort against Alabama on Saturday, Kruger said Monday's was even better.
"You just got to keep getting better," Kruger said. "This next month's going to be a grind. Our guys know it. That's what Big 12 basketball's about.
"You hate losing but you love the fight, love the competition. Tech is good. You've got to give them some credit."
While Reaves figures to be back Saturday, the Sooners will be without Alondes Williams for that game before Williams is eligible to return from COVID-19 protocol.