The Oklahoma Sooners secured a second consecutive win over a ranked opponent, this time on Big Monday over the No. 10 ranked Texas Longhorns. After starting cold, Buddy Hield scored 13 points while the rest of the group turned up the heat on both ends of the floor resulting in a 70-49 win. The occasion marks the worst home loss for Texas under Rick Barnes while Oklahoma snagged their first win against a top ten opponent on the road since 1993.
From the onset of the game, the Longhorns appeared lost on offense even though Isaiah Taylor was playing in his second game after suffering a wrist injury. That left the duties to Javan Felix as he put up a respectable 13 points himself. However, it was tough not to conjure up the series of events that played out two years ago.
With a 22-point lead in 2012, Amath M'Baye flashed the "Horns Down" sign as the Sooners completely fell apart soon after and eventually lost the game. Fortunately, Lon Kruger and the upperclassmen learned a valuable lesson that day which has clearly been passed down to the current players.
Playing inside out once again, Oklahoma found success against an opponent with length. Working the ball in to TaShawn Thomas paid dividends as the forward scored 12 points to go alongside 11 rebounds. In fact, Thomas quite possibly had the play of the game...but it's the bench reaction that makes this play!
Oklahoma's TsShawn Thomas brings the Thunder to the #Longhorns https://t.co/12xWxFnRlj— CC Machine (@CCMachine) January 6, 2015
Jordan Woodard and Dinjiyl Walker consistently drove the lane finding the open man with the kick-out pass proving that bigger is not always better. The likes of Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner were rendered nearly useless with the Oklahoma style of play stretching the floor.
Defense, Defense, Defense
The Oklahoma defense is much improved this season. After relying on the ability to score in order to put opponents away, the Sooners now consistently force stops making their opponent work harder on to find a way to score. On Monday, OU forced nine Texas turnovers and held the Longhorns to 20% shooting in the first half. By the time the game came to a close, the Sooners held a top ten opponent to 49 points and racked up eight steals and five blocks to boot.
The Sooners scored 16 points off turnovers.
If You Play Big, Then You Win Big
A common theme throughout conference play likely lies in the stature of the starting five. Without a player eclipsing the 6-8 mark, Oklahoma gives up quite a few inches in the paint. Don't let that fool you though as Ryan Spangler and the gang out-rebounded a Texas team, 42-37, with two players well over the 6-8 mark earning significant playing time. The Sooners rebound well as a team with Isaiah Cousins always having a hand in the mix.
Oklahoma outscored Texas in the paint 34-16 while adding 12 off offensive rebounds.
Throughout the preseason, the men's basketball program ran with the hashtag #TakeNotice. Kruger and his squad could not have picked a more fitting slogan to live by. Playing with a focus on each possession instead of the past or future has the team soaring to new heights. There's no denying that you get no breaks in Big XII play. With each game, Kruger has opposing coaches and players taking notice of the Sooners largely in part to a renewed defense. Needless to say, this is not a team to take lightly.