Year after year, the Big 12 Conference is always in the discussion for which conference is the toughest, or the best overall, in the country. In 2014-15, it's no different as the Big 12 currently has six teams inside the Top-25 rankings entering Saturday's action.
One of the teams who have enjoyed success in the Big 12 this season is the Oklahoma Sooners. They entered Saturday afternoon with a 9-4 record in conference play and looking to keep pace atop the conference standings and give themselves a realistic shot at the Big 12 crown. The Sooners, led by Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins, were predicted by many to be top contenders in the conference -- and in the NCAA Tournament. After some ups and downs early in the season, the Sooners now appear to be on the right track when it matters most.
On the flip side, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have struggled in conference play this year. The Red Raiders entered Saturday’s contest with Oklahoma with a 2-12 record in conference play. With that in mind, Texas Tech has been a tough team to knock off on their home floor. They have upset Iowa State in Lubbock, and they have played close games against Baylor, Texas, and West Virginia.
The Red Raiders played another Top-25 team tough, and they made the Sooners work extra hard to get a victory on Saturday. The game needed overtime, but in the end, the Sooners were too much for the Red Raiders.
Oklahoma came away with the 79-75 victory over Texas Tech.
Texas Tech started the game strong, opening with a 9-3 run to set the tone early. Isaiah Manderson scored six of the first nine points for the home team. Ryan Spangler and Hield would each add a layup for the Sooners as Oklahoma tried to get back in the game after falling behind early.
With under 10 to play, Cousins would give Oklahoma its first lead of the game, at 12-10 on a layup of his own. Shortly thereafter, Cousins connected on a three-pointer, and the Sooners were up by five with 8:29 to go in the half.
The Red Raiders came storming back and showed everyone why they are a tough team to knock off on their home floor. An 8-0 run, capped off by a Norense Odiase layup, gave Texas Tech a three-point lead.
As the first half closed out, both teams would go back and forth, each holding the lead down the stretch on several occasions. Neither team could take a lead by more than three points, giving both teams a shot at the win in the second half.
When the buzzer sounded to end the first half, Oklahoma held a slim 30-29 lead over the Red Raiders.
The second half opened with both teams trading blows on the offensive end. Texas Tech would erase the deficit quickly, but two long balls from Oklahoma gave the Sooners a four-point lead. As was the trend in the first half, Texas Tech game back to erase the lead and take one of their own.
The trend of back-and-forth play would continue the rest of the way. The largest lead by any team over the last 12 minutes of the half was six points, which Oklahoma held with just 1:41 to play. Again, the Red Raiders chipped away and made this a game again, much to the delight of their hometown crowd.
Keenan Evans made a two-point tip shot, and Zach Smith made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to just one. Jordan Woodard made two free throws for the Sooners to stretch the lead to three, but it was not enough to seal the victory. With just six seconds to play, Toddrick Gotcher made a three-pointer for the Red Raiders to tie the game at 67-all, sending the fans into a frenzy andthe game into overtime.
In the extra frame, Hield scored five points for the Sooners, and Texas Tech’s momentum ran out. While the Red Raiders hung around, it was not in the cards for them on Saturday. Oklahoma came away with a hard-earned 79-75 win over Texas Tech, thanks in part to strong free throw shooting down the stretch in overtime.
For the visiting Sooners, Cousins scored a game-high 22 points to lead his team to victory. Frank Booker added 17 points off the bench while Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas added 15 points and seven rebounds of his own to help lead the Sooners to the win.
The starters for Texas Tech did all of the damage, scoring 73 of the team’s 75 points. Gotcher scored a team-high 18 points in the loss while Isaiah Manderson added 13 points and eight rebounds. Forward Smith stuffed the boxscore in a losing effort, recording 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks.
The win kept the Oklahoma Sooners (19-8, 10-5) within one game of the conference-leading Kansas Jayhawks. The Sooners will look to stay in contention with a win in their next contest when they take on Texas Christian University next Saturday.
Add another loss to the record for the Red Raiders (12-16, 2-13) in what has been a dismal showing in conference action after a strong showing in non-conference play. They will look to salvage what they can from this season, starting with their next contest at TCU on Wednesday.