The Red River Rivalry never fails to disappoint, and No. 24 Oklahoma upsetting No. 5 Texas 80-79 on Tuesday is just the latest dramatic chapter in the storied series. The Sooners led throughout the entire second half but the Longhorns, on their home court, with just eight scholarship players and without coach Shaka Smart, didn't make it easy. They staged a furious second-half comeback and came within one point twice in the final minute, but couldn't quite dig out of the deficit.
For Texas (11-3, 5-2), it was an array of fouls combined with missed opportunities late that ultimately did it in. Three starters (Greg Brown, Royce Hamm Jr. and Matt Coleman III) fouled out of the game, while two bench players (Kamaka Hepa and Donovan Williams) finished the game with four fouls. Oklahoma (10-4, 6-3 Big 12) was in the double bonus for the final 12:41 (!) of the second half because of a barrage of fouls from Texas, who finished the game with five scholarship players.
Adding insult to injury, a costly tip-in from Texas freshman Brown on OU's own goal early in the second half proved to be the margin between a win and loss.
OU got a brilliant effort from senior guard Austin Reaves, who scored 23 points -- 11 coming in the second half -- in the win. He salted the game away late with two clutch free throws, but also went 2 of 6 from 3-point range while adding the circus shot of the night that, miraculously, dropped right down the net.
For OU, it's a second win over a top-10 opponent in as many games after beating No. 9 Kansas over the weekend. It also extends its winning streak to four and, quietly, places the Sooners just two games off Baylor's Big 12-leading pace. At this point it feels like everyone in the league is playing for second with Baylor crushing souls left and right, but OU being in the mix after being picked to finish sixth in the preseason is an accomplishment in itself for Lon Kruger and his staff.
As for Texas, a loss without Smart and several key players coming off a 10-day layover -- and by only one point -- isn't one to fuss over. It could wind up being the first of several stumbles in a grueling upcoming stretch. Texas heads to Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday to face the Wildcats in the Big 12/SEC Challenge before bouts against No. 2 Baylor followed by Oklahoma State over the next 10 days.