Yet again, the Sooners led at halftime and yet again, they couldn’t make the plays down the stretch that lead to victory.
Only this time, it was much worse in their 72-64 setback in front of 8,542 at the Erwin Center.
The Sooners commanded the game from the get-go, leading by as much as 12 and not trailing until the 6:15 mark of the second half before things got ugly down the stretch.
“Any time you are on the road with a good ball club like Texas, you would like to take advantage of the good start that we had,” Kruger said. “They were able to cut into it and get the game down to four at the half. We widened it back out in the second half but we could not sustain it.”
That just about sums it up perfectly.
After their double digit lead sunk to just four at halftime and later to two early in the second half, OU stormed on a run to go back up eight.
The Sooners never led by that much again after Texas scored on the following possession.
Even so, they led by five at 55-50 with 8:46 remaining and still seemingly had control of the game.
But turnovers became the Achilles’ heel down the stretch.
“Any time you’re on the road, you need a margin if you can create one, especially in the second half where I thought we gave away too many possessions...possessions where we did not get good shots, good looks, or just did not execute things well,” Kruger said.
One sequence really highlighted it.
With 3:17 to go, Texas forward Jonathan Holmes converted a layup to make it 64-62, then OU had four chances to tie it back up on the next possession and missed all four off three offensive rebounds.
Texas guard J’Covan Brown then scored, and Texas guard Myck Kabongo stole the ensuing inbounds pass from OU guard Sam Grooms and tossed it to Texas forward Sheldon McClellan for the dunk.
Grooms turned it over again, and Brown drained a jumper.
In a flash, OU went from tied to down eight.
“We have to take care of the ball and play with a more physical presence,” Kruger said.
And that’s just it.
For about 30 minutes of this game, they did just that.
They just didn’t for the other 10, a major microcosm for this season and why OU has lost 13 straight second halves and a plethora of games after leading at the break.
“I thought the team did a lot of good things but not enough good things to beat a Texas club, especially here,” Kruger said. “We had a lot of good possessions, especially in the first half. The first half got to a good start but in the second half, when Texas went on a run, we had a lot of possessions that were not good. With that, Texas did a good job of getting second shots, collecting loose balls and turning those into buckets.
“McClellan had a great night. We have good weapons, but we have to continue to do things better.”
OU got up 7-0 early and 23-11 midway through the first half before Texas closed on a 22-14 run to end the first half down 37-33.
Texas scored the first points after half to close within two, but OU led a couple minutes later 45-37.
They held six point advantages three times and that five-point lead later but couldn’t hold on.
Forward Romero Osby led four Sooner scorers in double figures with his 14, while guard Steven Pledger, forward Andrew Fitzgerald and guard Cameron Clark finished with 13, 12 and 12, respectively.
McClellan led all scorers with his 24, and Brown had 22.
The Sooners (14-15, 4-13 Big 12) get back to action in their regular season finale when they play host to Texas A&M at 3 p.m. Saturday.
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