NORMAN, Okla. – It was an accurate thing to say two months ago that Oklahoma was all offense and no defense. The Sooners best bet was to outscore their opponents and hope for the best.
But Saturday was another illustration of just how far the team has come defensively in Lon Kruger's third year. And sometimes it's the perfect blend of offense and defense as it was for the Sooners in a 77-65 victory against No. 24 Texas in front of 9,107 fans at Lloyd Noble Center.
However, OU (21-8 overall, 10-6 Big 12) needed a defensive leader from the perimeter and sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins has stepped up in that role.
"The guys have made a ton of progress defensively," Kruger said. "Isaiah took the responsibility to toughen us on the perimeter."
And when defense is doing well, that can lead to offensive success. Cousins notched three steals and scored a career-high 24 points on an efficient 7 of 11 day from the field.
It had to be the guards on this day as Spangler and Cameron Clark were both saddled with foul trouble. They combined to only play 43 of 80 minutes and both had three fouls with more than 16 minutes left in the second half.
Cousins and sophomore guard Buddy Hield picked up the slack. Cousins scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half, while Hield scored 12 of his 17 points after halftime.
"I just tried to stay aggressive," Cousins said. "We knew what we had to do."
Spangler only finished with five points, but he was able to grab eight of his 10 rebounds in the second half as he constantly battled Texas' Cameron Ridley.
The Sooners led 32-25 at halftime and never let Texas sniff a comeback. OU made 10 3-pointers and was a stellar 19 of 22 from the free throw line.
OU forced 16 turnovers from Texas and kept guard Javan Felix from finding a rhythm. He was 0-of-4 from 3-point territory and the Horns were 3-19 as a team. Hield also had three of OU's eight steals.