Kansas City, Mo. Allowing big leads to disappear cost No. 10 Texas dearly during the regular season. The 10th-ranked Longhorns were determined not to let it happen again Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.
Oklahoma sliced seven points off a 23-point halftime deficit but could get no closer as Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson each turned in a double-double to lead Texas to a 74-54 victory.
“At halftime, coach Barnes told us that we might be up by 23, but we had to come out in the second half with intensity and do what we do,” Thompson said. “There have been some situations in the past where, you guys know the result. We wanted to keep pressure on them and extend the lead if possible.”
The second-seeded Longhorns (26-5) beat Oklahoma for the third time this season and 11th in 13 meetings overall. They led by as many as 25 in the first half and never let the Sooners (14-18) get closer than 13 after that.
“Playing with the lead is sometimes hard, because you have to worry about some stuff,” Texas guard Jai Lucas said. “We had to find a way to keep playing like the score was 0-0.”
Hamilton had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Thompson totaled 13 points and 11 boards for Texas, which lost three of its last five in the regular season to finish second in the Big 12 behind No. 2 Kansas.
Oklahoma got 17 points from Cade Davis in a foul-plagued game. Officials called 21 fouls on Oklahoma and 14 on the Longhorns, who had a 39-23 rebounding edge and held the 10th-seeded Sooners to 3-of-13 shooting from behind the three-point line.
“We’ve had big leads a lot this year and let them go,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I could say it’s human nature. As Jai said, it’s difficult to play with a big lead. I say that, but I don’t know if I believe it. If you play your game and execute, you have to continue to attack.”
Hamilton had a bucket, and Lucas connected on the game’s first three-pointer as the Longhorns got off to an 11-2 start, setting the tone for the entire evening.
The Texas defense, which held Oklahoma to a season-low 46 points in a 66-46 blowout on Jan. 15, forced the Sooners into 23 percent shooting. The Longhorns gave up only one conventional basket over the first 8:38. Davis had a field goal early in the half, and that was the Sooners’ only true bucket until Davis scored at the 11:22 mark to make it 11-6. In between, Andrew Fitzgerald was awarded two points on basket interference.
“I think we just kind of rushed ourselves,” Davis said. “Their pressure got to us. We were kind of forcing shots. We weren’t able to make the open shots that we did get, and it knocked us back on our heels. They have tremendous depth. When they come in, there’s really no drop-off on the post play and even in the guard play.”
The Sooners made a mild run in the second half, chipping a 43-20 halftime lead down to 53-39 with an 8-0 spurt that included Davis’ three-pointer and three free throws by Steven Pledger after J’Covan Brown fouled him behind the arc.
A few minutes later, Calvin Newell’s two foul shots got Oklahoma to 65-52.
But Thompson answered with a huge dunk off a nifty feed from Brown, and Gary Johnson converted a three-point play to quickly build the lead to 70-52.
Fitzgerald had 10 points for Oklahoma.
“They are a great basketball team,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. “They put us in a tough position early on. We felt like we got some good looks, we just couldn’t finish and keep them off the glass.”