AUSTIN, Texas — Did Oklahoma’s overtime loss to Texas hinge on one little hand gesture? Of course not. Amath M’Baye’s downward “Hook'em Horns " isn’t what caused the Sooners blow a 22-point lead with less than eight minutes to go at the Erwin Center.
The reason OU dropped a heart-wrenching 92-86 loss to the Longhorns was because it simply stopped playing with a purpose after M’Baye’s dunk.
“When you lose a ball game, you are always going to look back to see the things that went wrong,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “Certainly, there was a lot of opportunity in this ball game when you are up 22 with seven to go.”
There were three major issues to take away from Wednesday’s loss.
· OU has to get better against the full-court press. The real wrench thrown in the spokes after M’Baye’s dunk was the press Texas rolled out. The Sooners made five five turnovers during a four-minute span that quickly allowed Texas to turn that 22-point deficit to 10.
Most of those turnovers were on Texas’ end of the court and resulted in uncontested baskets. The Longhorns’ Myck Kabongo caught fire because of those turnovers, scored 24 points in the last 7:54 of regulation and overtime. He was 7-for-7 from the field.
Wednesday night was finally when the absence of Buddy Hield caught up with OU. It needed another ball handler and OU didn’t have anyone else to turn to. Plus, a different better perimeter defender to put on Kabongo would have. Hield, who is out with a foot injury, has been the go-to guy for that assignment. The Sooners really missed that aspect.
· Romero Osby quit getting the ball in position to score. The senior forward, who scored a career-high 31 points, had scored 20 midway through the second half. His free throws with 10:34 left in regulation put the Sooners up by 18.
Osby didn’t attempt another until Texas had whittled the lead down to six with 2:30 to go.
The Sooners are one of those rare teams that can actually throw the ball in the post and consistently get a basket. They got away from it during Texas’ run.
· You have to get stops down the stretch. Texas scored at least one point on its last nine possessions in regulation. Something like that simply cannot happen.
M’Baye wasn’t made available for comment after the game, but Osby articulated the collapse in simple terms.
“We just did not make the plays. We have to get stops down the stretch,” he said. “We cannot say that karma came back because he did that [Horns down hand gesture]. If we won the game there would be nothing said about it. I am not going to put that on him.”
There was plenty of blame to go around.