With a minute remaining in a basketball game at the Moody Center Wednesday night, Texas junior Shay Holle denied an entry pass to Oklahoma security guard Kennady Tucker.
Sales ended up in the hands of Rori Harmon. And as the Texas point guard dribbled the basketball across the court, 6,623 announced spectators stood and cheered.
That turnover — Oklahoma’s 24th night — was a punctuation mark in a 78-58 win for the Longhorns. With the win, Texas (15-6, 6-2) settled for a first-place tie with No. 14 Oklahoma (16-3, 6-2) and No. 18 Iowa State (14-4, 6-2). ) a ) in the Big 12 standings.
“Our kids just went out there and really, really did their best,” said Texas coach Vic Schaefer.
Texas and Oklahoma fought a spirited battle in the first 20 minutes of the game. Texas built a 10-point lead in the first half, but the Sooners rallied. At half time UT was up 40:36.
Asked if Texas is defending Oklahoma’s offense earlier in the week, Schaefer said it’s comparable to “good hitting versus good pitching” in baseball. Oklahoma started the week with the No. 3-scoring offense in the country. Texas had the third best defense in the Big 12.
Texas defeated the Sooners multiple times in Wednesday’s third quarter. And sometimes that good defense led to the Longhorns being insulted.
With Texas leading 49-40, Sonya Morris knocked the basketball out of the hands of Madi Williams. Six seconds later, Shaylee Gonzales fed the basketball to an open morris and the senior guard knocked down a 3-pointer.
From there, the Texas leadership just kept growing and growing. In the fading seconds of the quarter, Harmon scooped Taylor Robertson defensively, forcing the sharp-shooting guard to make a faulty pass to Williams, who was firmly defended by UT newcomer Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda in the colour. After the basketball sailed wide with six seconds remaining, Texas walked down the court and Harmon hit the buzzer with a jumper.
Harmon’s shot capped a quarter in which Texas edged the Sooners by a 21-6 lead. During the third quarter, Oklahoma shot 1:17 off the field and committed eight turnovers.
“Every game is like the other but this is one of our little rivalry games and of course another special night in terms of Pride Night and all the fans that come out but understand they’re playing defense and they’re going on with only six in the third.” 58, I think that’s where we just understood, play defense, that’s how we’re going to win basketball games,” Harmon said.
Schaefer noted in his post-game press conference that last year’s game between Texas and Oklahoma in Austin followed a similar script. Texas was a point down at halftime of that game, but they rolled to a 78-63 win after overtaking Oklahoma by a 27-6 lead in the third quarter.
This time, Oklahoma failed to score 60 points for the first time in head coach Jennie Baranczyk’s two-year tenure. The Sooners had averaged 87.3 points per game this season.
Williams, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, was limited to eight points. Robertson came on and needed three 3-pointers to break Kelsey Mitchell’s career NCAA record of 497, but she left town with a tie. Robertson only attempted a 3-pointer after the first quarter.
“That was our whole defense,” Gonzales said. “I feel like we definitely locked her up.”
Texas is yet to be beaten by a Big 12 opponent in Austin this season. In its four conference competitions at home – three of them against ranked teams from Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma – Texas is 113 seconds behind overall. None of the four deficits Texas faced lasted a minute.
Texas was unranked for all three of those wins. The Longhorns re-entered the AP poll last week, but UT were quickly removed from the rankings after a 68-64 loss at Texas Tech on Jan. 18.
After the game, Baranczyk said she didn’t understand why Texas wasn’t counted. The Sooners coach later admitted that “the AP didn’t ask me.”
“We have some great teams in our league,” said Baranczyk. “And again Texas falls out of the rankings, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Texas Tech is a very good basketball team and it’s extremely tough to play there.”
Offensively, Texas was led by junior forward DeYona Gaston with 19 points. Gonzales and transfer colleague Taylor Jones combined for 28 points in their Oklahoma introductions. Both Gaston and Jones made seven of the 11 shots they attempted.
Next up for Texas is a home game against Oklahoma State on Saturday night. Earlier this month, Oklahoma State stunned UT, recording an 86-82 win over the Longhorns in Stillwater.
Remarks: Oklahoma was led by Skylar Vann with 13 points. … Between the first and second quarters, the Texas volleyball team was recognized and honored for winning the NCAA championship last December. … On Tuesday, Madison Booker became the 27th signee from Texas to receive McDonald’s All-American honors. Booker is a five-star forward attending Germantown High in Mississippi.