NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger didn’t shy from the obvious after a 66-54 loss to No. 18-ranked Texas Tech at Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday.
The Sooners have to play better for 40 minutes, he said.
OU (15-9, 3-8 Big 12) had flashes of success, which included an 11-3 run late in the first half after falling behind 30-13. The Sooners then came within nine points of Texas Tech (19-5, 6-4) with under 13 minutes remaining in regulation after letting the Red Raiders build a 20-point deficit to start the second half.
Texas Tech always had an answer, however.
“Tech pretty much dictated from the start,” Kruger said. “They did a great job out of the gate. We didn't. I thought their defense frustrated us a bit.
“Again, we made a brief run in the second half. We have to play like that for 40 minutes. We haven't done that in a while. Tech's good and we didn't really match them in any area.”
Kruger doesn’t believe there’s a specific area that will fix everything for his group, which has now lost four-consecutive games.
OU made only four 3-point attempts to Texas Tech's 10 on Saturday. The Sooners allowed the Red Raiders to cash in on 11 second-chance points — OU had three. And the Sooners had seven shots blocked, while only blocking one. Jamuni McNeace, who leads the team in blocks, was unavailable.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard made note of Oklahoma’s recent adversity, including the loss of McNeace, whom Beard referred to as one of the Big 12’s best players in terms of athletic ability.
Beard showed plenty of respect to Kruger’s entire roster, which put together a few quality stretches that threatened Tech's lead.
“Those are scary times as a coach,” Beard said of OU's scoring runs. “You’re just trying to keep playing the game. There’s a fine line. You know, do we start milking the clock. Do we play like we have been. It’s like in football, the old prevent defense. Which I’m not a big fan of. ... Today, I think we made some timely shots.”
Tech sophomore guard Davide Moretti led his team in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-7 shots from the floor. OU's Rashard Odomes also posted 14 points in the contest, but made all five of his shot attempts and drew fouls often.
Odomes, a 6-foot-6 senior from Copperas Cove, Texas, made a living off attacking the rim and completing and-one plays against a stingy Texas Tech defense.
“They just play a lot of help side honestly,” Odomes said when asked what makes the Red Raiders hard to score against. “If you can get past one person, the second person is coming. They’re long and athletic, so they’re really sound on defense. There’s not too many mistakes.”
OU will try to minimize its own mistakes Monday at Baylor, a team that soundly beat the Sooners 77-47 less than two weeks ago.
It will be a short turnaround for the Sooners. Kruger kept his message simple with another challenge awaiting his group.
“You’d prefer having more days to prep, but that’s the way conference play is,” Kruger said. “… Baylor’s got the same amount. We’ve got to get ready, go down there and play much better.”