McNeace’s double-double helps Sooners beat Longhorns 70-66
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) This time, even without their leader, Oklahoma held onto a late lead and celebrated a win.
Playing for the first time without standout senior guard Jordan Woodard – who suffered a career-ending knee injury in a game three days earlier – Oklahoma hung on to beat Texas 70-66 on Tuesday night.
Jamuni McNeace scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds – career highs in both categories – to help the Sooners end a seven-game losing streak during which they lost three times when leading in the final minute. One of those games was at Texas on Jan. 23, in which they blew a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds to lose 84-83.
Jarrett Allen led the Longhorns with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his 10th double-double of the season – the most in the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners entered the game having lost 14 of 16, so it felt good just to win, Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said.
”I’m very happy for our guys,” Kruger said. ”We’ve had a few (games) in position to finish and we haven’t, but yet they stayed right there and hung together and worked hard and made progress.”
This time, Texas led by as many as eight points in the second half before the Sooners rallied. Freshman Jordan Shepherd – scoreless to that point – hit a 3-pointer with 4:28 left to put Oklahoma ahead 58-56, then added another 3 during a 10-1 run that put the Sooners up 65-57 with two minutes remaining.
Shepherd’s free throw with 10.4 seconds left stretched the lead to 70-66. Rashard Odomes blocked a layup attempt by Allen at the other end to seal the win.
”I definitely thought we were going to close out the game, just keeping the ball in my hands and being me strong with it and just getting into our sets,” Shepherd said. ”They were just knocking down shots.”
Kerwin Roach Jr. added 13 points and Andrew Jones had 12 for the Longhorns, who shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half but slumped to 34.4 percent in the second half.
”Very disappointed,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. ”Give Oklahoma credit. They made plays they needed to make. They made shots. . I’m just real disappointed because the last couple of days, coming off our last game, our guys really had a good understanding of what we needed to do tonight and it didn’t carry over.”
Odomes and Kameron McGusty each scored 11 points for Oklahoma, with McGusty adding five steals.
Texas jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first three minutes and held the advantage throughout the first half. Seldom-used Oklahoma senior C.J. Cole’s putback with 1:24 left gave the Sooners their first lead at 38-37, but Roach Jr.’s layup 16 seconds later put the Longhorns back ahead 39-38 at halftime.
Oklahoma: The Sooners avoided their longest losing streak since 2010-11 (Jeff Capel’s final season as coach), when they lost eight in a row. With Jordan Woodard out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, the Sooners have just one remaining starter from last season’s Final Four squad (junior Khadeem Lattin), and are looking to the future and a confidence-building win like the one against the Longhorns can only help that process.
Texas: Barring a run through the Big 12 Tournament, Texas is going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. They’ve yet to win a road game in the Big 12 this season in eight tries, with trips to No. 9 West Virginia and Texas Tech still to come. With a closing stretch that includes probable NCAA Tournament teams Kansas State, West Virginia, Kansas and Baylor, the Texas Tech game might be the Longhorns’ best chance for a win before season’s end.
Oklahoma’s Kameron McGusty has scored in double figures in 13 straight games, the longest streak by any Big 12 freshman this season. … Texas’ Andrew Jones, also a freshman, is close behind McGusty, with 10 straight double-figure scoring games . Oklahoma honored Woodard – a four-year starter who helped the Sooners reach the Final Four last season – by showing a highlight package on the video board at Lloyd Noble Center . Cole’s first-half basket was only his second field goal of the season for the Sooners . Texas is 5-8 this season in games decided by five points or less.
Oklahoma: The Sooners head to Stillwater on Saturday for the second Bedlam game of the season, hoping to avenge an earlier last-second loss to Oklahoma State.
Texas: The Longhorns begin a tough three-game stretch at Kansas State on Saturday before visiting No. 9 West Virginia on Monday and hosting No. 3 Kansas on Feb. 25.