NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Looks like Texas Tech and veteran coach Tubby Smith have figured things out.
Robert Turner scored 16 points to help the Red Raiders defeat Oklahoma 68-60 on Wednesday night for their third straight win.
Jaye Crockett and Dusty Hannahs each scored 10 points for Texas Tech (13-11, 5-6 Big 12), which has rallied since a 2-6 start in league play.
The Red Raiders nearly squandered a 20-point lead in the second half before holding on. Smith said he was proud of the way his team fought off the Sooners.
“I think it kind of validates and confirms we’re doing some things well, doing things the right way, trying to build a program the right way,” Smith said. “It tells me a lot about these kids’ heart and their toughness.
“That’s the sign of a team that’s maturing and starting to understand how to play.”
Texas Tech’s previous win, a 65-61 victory over Oklahoma State, was overshadowed because Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr late in the game, leading to a three-game suspension for Smart.
There were no distractions this time. Tech held Oklahoma to its lowest point total of the season and 6-for-27 3-point shooting.
“They’re a good team,” Turner said of the Sooners. “They live and die by the 3-pointer a little bit. They kept shooting them. We were contesting really good, and they stopped making shots.”
Cameron Clark scored 16 points, Isaiah Cousins added 12 and Je’lon Hornbeak scored all nine of his points in the second half for the Sooners (18-7, 7-5). Buddy Hield, Oklahoma’s leading scorer, finished with three points on 1-for-13 shooting, including a 1-for-10 effort from 3-point range. Oklahoma, which dropped out of the Top 25 this week, now has lost three of four.
“I thought Tech just physically whipped us in every way, especially in the first half,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought they did a terrific job of being physical with the ballhandlers and we weren’t strong enough with the ball. We turned it over several times, and we’ve got to learn from it. They were clearly the better ballclub tonight.”
Oklahoma won the first meeting 74-65 in Lubbock, Texas. But the teams came out with different mentalities that night.
“They totally set the tone tonight,” Kruger said. “I thought in Lubbock, we were able to do that for the most part. Dictated in a lot of different ways. They dictated tonight. They came in with a high level of confidence and took it right to us from the start. They were attacking us and got us on our heels a little bit and took advantage of that.”
Clark, who had been in a bit of a shooting slump for much of the Big 12 season, scored Oklahoma’s first 10 points. The first player other than Clark to score for Oklahoma was Ryan Spangler with 7:56 left in the first half.
Texas Tech’s ability to shut the rest of the Sooners down helped the Red Raiders take a 20-10 lead on a dunk by Turner.
Clark committed his second foul with 6:55 left in the first half and Spangler committed his second with 5:45 left before the break, forcing both to the bench. Texas Tech took advantage and increased its lead to 37-21 at the break. The Sooners shot 28 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers in their lowest-scoring half of the season.
Texas Tech extended its lead in the early minutes of the second half. Three-pointers by Toddrick Gotcher and Turner helped Tech take a 47-27 lead with 16:42 remaining.
Frank Booker’s 3 cut Tech’s lead to 13, and a fast-break layup by Hornbeak made it 49-38 and led to a timeout by Texas Tech.
Back-to-back three-point plays by Hornbeak and Cousins trimmed Tech’s lead to 51-46, and Hornbeak scored again to make it a three-point game.
“You know Lon Kruger’s team is always going to battle,” Smith said. “Even though they were struggling in the first half to shoot the ball and make shots, they started making them in the second half. We knew that was coming.”
Texas Tech withstood the Sooners’ surge and held on.
“I’ve got to compliment our guys for not losing their composure and staying focused and staying strong to get a hard-fought, well-deserved road win for us,” Smith said. “They’ve been far and few between at Texas Tech, so we’re happy to get this one.”
Oklahoma’s first chance to bounce back will be Saturday at rival Oklahoma State.
“We’ve just got to approach every game like it’s our last,” Clark said. “We didn’t come out ready to play. We’ve just got to learn from this. Everybody’s good in the Big 12, and we’ve just got to play hard each and every game.”
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