Oklahoma ended the month of January as the hottest team in college hoops with four wins over top-10 opponents and three over teams ranked No. 9. Then it began the month of February by earning the No. 9 ranking in the AP poll on the heels of that red-hot stretch, only to meet the same fate as the three ninth-ranked teams that faced OU last month, falling 57-52 to No. 13 Texas Tech on Monday.
The Red Raiders led for 33:21 of game time and withstood the Sooners’ constant pushes throughout. Though they never trailed in the second half, OU tied the game in the opening minutes of the second half. And after trailing by a game-high 10 points, it reeled off a 10-2 run to cut the margin to two points with 1:01 to play before Texas Tech’s own 5-0 run to close the game.
It was a hard-fought grind by both clubs but hardly the offensive shootout most expected from two top-25 teams with top-25 offenses. Instead, it was both defenses that showed up and showed out. OU held Big 12 scoring leader Mac McClung to only six points and without a field goal the entire game, and Tech held OU to just 18-of-54 shooting from the field and 6-of-22 from 3-point range. It was an ugly, defensive grind, with the Red Raiders coming up with big stops and forcing tough shots when they needed it most.
While McClung’s offensive production was minimal, Texas Tech’s other star, Terrence Shannon, shook out his early funk. After being held scoreless in the first half — with Texas Tech up 25-18 at the break — Shannon scored all 15 of his points in a second-half barrage by attacking OU’s defense and getting to the rim.
Credit Texas Tech for once again finding a way to win in unusual fashion. Over the weekend it beat LSU by cobbling together a 12-0 run over the final minute to win 76-71 in a high-scoring affair. By winning a slugfest it showed this team isn’t reliant on one particular style to win.
Big picture, this outcome isn’t completely meaningful, but it may well kill OU’s outside shot of winning the Big 12. The league has looked for some time like it is Baylor’s to lose, and OU’s loss, dropping it to 6-4 in league play and three games out of first place, only solidifies that obvious fact. The closest team to the Bears now is Texas — who plays Baylor on Tuesday — and even the Longhorns are 2.5 games back.