Doolittle 28 points with late 3 as Oklahoma beats UNT 82-80

DENTON, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma’s only senior swished the 3-pointer that finally put the Sooners ahead after so many ties in the second half.

Kristian Doolittle scored 18 of his 28 points after halftime, with his go-ahead shot from the top right key with 13.5 seconds left and the Sooners went on to beat North Texas 82-80 on Thursday night.

“Really nothing’s going through my mind. Kind of went blank there at the end,” Doolittle said. “I knew in the previous plays that they were helping a lot when I was driving, so he was sagging off me a little bit. I was just able to rise up and knock it down.”

North Texas (3-6) had a 66-56 lead on a 3-pointer by DJ Draper with 12:06 left, but didn’t score again until Thomas Bell’s two free throws with 7:23 left after the Sooners had tied the game with 10 points in a row.

Oklahoma (7-1) tied the games five more times after that, including Doolittle’s jumper with 1:08 left before his 3 that made it 81-78. Doolittle was 3-of-3 from long range and 11-of-15 shooting overall.

“It just showed our resilience that we play with,” Doolittle said.

“We’ll learn a lot from early season games,” coach Lon Kruger said. “But then their response during those times when we just couldn’t quite get back. We kept plugging and kept plugging, then finally get back over the hump. You feel good about your team when they do that.”

Austin Reaves added 22 points for Oklahoma. Brady Manek had 16, including one of two throws with 7.6 seconds left after he was wide open for an long inbound pass from Doolittle.

Umoja Gibson had 21 points for North Texas. James Reese had 13 points and Javion Hamlet 10.

The Mean Green had one more chance after Manek’s last free throw. But Thomas Bell’s 3-pointer ricocheted off the rim as time expired.

“No excuse, we should’ve won the basketball game, I felt like we put ourselves in position,” said third-year North Texas coach Grant McCasland, the former Baylor assistant. “Not enough grit defensively for this one. We’ve faltered defensively late in some games around the basket and it was evident again today that we have to be more physical to finish games and guard the ball better.”

HAPPY HOMECOMING

Oklahoma freshman guard De’Vion Harmon played his high school ball at Denton Guyer, about 7 miles from the North Texas arena. He had 11 points and his 3-pointer with 2:42 left tied the game at 76-all.

“We took it upon ourselves to make sure he got a ‘W’,” Doolittle said.

“He rises to the occasion. He’s played a lot of big-time games in his life and coming home, you know a lot of family and friends were here,” Kruger said. “Good to see him have a good one.”

REESE SPURTS

The game was tied at 18 in the first half before Reese made a 3-pointer and then a layup and Roosevelt Smart hit a 3 to cap an 8-0 run by the Mean Green. The Sooners got within two twice more before halftime, and both times Reese followed with a 3-pointer and another basket for North Texas.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma: The Sooners, with Harmon in the starting lineup and their top five reserves also being freshmen, were the only Big 12 team with three wins over major conference schools in November. … Oklahoma led only 2 minutes, 11 seconds in the game — including 2-0 and 4-2 early on.

North Texas: Gibson had 16 points before halftime and started the second half with a 3-pointer. … It was another close call for the Mean Green, who in their second game of the year lost 59-56 at then-No. 25 VCU. They also had a five-point home loss against Eastern Michigan.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma plays at Wichita State on Dec. 14, then at Creighton three days after that.

North Texas is home again Saturday against Little Rock.