NORMAN, Okla. — For the first 20 minutes, the Texas Tech men’s basketball team slowed down one of the best players in the country.
Oklahoma guard Trae Young was limited to five points on 1 of 12 shooting in the first half, but was able to find a way to put the ball in the basket against a stingy Red Raiders defense in the final stanza.
Young mustered 22 of his 27 total points in the second half as the No. 9 Sooner defeated the No. 8 Red Raiders 75-65 on Tuesday night in a Big 12 game at the Lloyd Noble Center.
With the loss, the Red Raiders (14-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12) ended an eight-game winning streak which dated back to last December. The Sooners (13-2, 3-1) stayed undefeated at home, increasing its home winning streak to 11 games dating back to Feb. 8, 2017.
“We just tried to make it tough in anyway possible, and not let him catch the ball,” Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans said of what the Red Raiders did to hold Young to five points in the first half. “Make him, just, uncomfortable. Just make his take tough shots. And, in the second half, we kind of lost focus, lost track of where he was and wasn’t disciplined to keep our hands up — show our hands. We put him on the free-throw line and it kind of let him get going.”
Early on, Texas Tech’s defensive strategy worked as Young struggled to find his rhythm on offense. The freshman shot 1 of 12 from the field, including 0 for 3 from the three-point line, in the first half.
Much of that was due to several players, including Evans, Niem Stevenson, Justin Gray, Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith, putting a body and making driving lanes more difficult for Young in the first 20 minutes.
“Just to settle down in this game,” Young said of what he thought about going into halftime with a 31-29 deficit. “I had a lot of emotions, for me. And I played like a freshman in the first half. I just let that get to me in the first half. I just settled down in the second half. … I focused on my shot and settled down.”
After not making any shots from beyond the 3-point line, Young gained confidence by draining a 3-pointer at the 17:25 mark of the second half. Young’s triple capped off a 7-0 run, which gave the Sooners a 36-31 advantage.
“It’s always good to see the ball go through the rim,” Young said. “It just felt good. I was happy that was my first shot in the second half. I just found a rhythm from then on and I just let the game come to me. I was just looking to attack a lot more in the second half and be more physical in the second half.”
Young certainly did his damage from the free-throw line, making six of eight attempts in the second half. More so, he was efficient from the field (6 of 11) while knocking down four of his seven shots from the 3-point line.
“When we went into halftime, we knew that he was going to try and take over the game,” Evans said of Young. “But, like I said: lost focus, lost track of where he was and got caught with our hands down. And he just made shots. He’s a great player, so we just have to be more locked in on him.”
The Sooners outscored the Red Raiders 46-34 in the second half to keep their home mark unblemished.
“I’m ready to see how the young guys do, how they bounce back,” Evans said of what he can take away from the loss. “We always talk about turnovers. We can’t win with the amount of turnovers we had. We’re definitely going to learn that especially with who we play next game (No. 2 West Virginia). There’s going to be a big, big emphasis on that. We can always from turnovers and being more locked in the whole game.”
Texas Tech may have played its worst first half, committing 11 turnovers, yet found a way to bounce back and fend off several Sooners offensive runs thanks to playing with energy on the defensive end.
The Red Raiders looked ready to go as they jumped out to a 4-0 advantage following made shots by Stevenson and Evans, respectively. Evans ended with 19 points and five rebounds, while Stevenson tallied five points and four rebounds.
But Oklahoma answered back with a 5-0 run — starting with an old-fashioned, three-point play converted by Rashard Odomes — which gave the Sooners a 5-4 cushion with 17:02 left in the first half.
It marked the first time Texas Tech trailed in Big 12 play, but did not deter the Red Raiders from continuing to plug away.
Norense Odiase split a pair of free throws, which was the catalyst to an 11-4 run that put Texas Tech up 15-9 around the 10-minute mark.
“They were switching everything and we weren’t really making the right cuts and slips that we were supposed to,” Evans said of what wasn’t working on the offensive end in the first half. “That’s what made it so easy to defend us. Once we got a timeout, that got us kind of going after we talked it over.”
Both squads when back and forth before the Red Raiders enjoyed a 31-29 advantage by the break before Oklahoma found its shooting stroke in the second half.
“I thought both teams did a good job of disrupting the other, especially in the first half,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Neither had a great rhythm. … Chris Beard is one of the best. You saw them playing with great confidence and great togetherness. They’re just very good.”
Player of the game
Trae Young, Fr., G
The former Norman North standout struggled in the first half, but turned things around in the final 20 minutes. Young finished with 27 points, scoring 22 in the second half, while also chipping in nine assists, four steals and two rebounds in the win.
Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young led the country in points (29.4) and assists (10.4). … Texas Tech freshman guard Zhaire Smith earned his first start of the season. He replaced injured Zach Smith, who did not play, in the Red Raiders starting lineup.
Texas Tech is scheduled to host No. 2 West Virginia at 1 p.m. Saturday. It marks the first time the Red Raiders have hosted a Top 10 matchup in program history.
Oklahoma is slated to face off against No. 16 TCU at noon Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center.
NO. 9 OKLAHOMA 75, No. 8 TEXAS TECH 65
TEXAS TECH – Odiase 1-3 3-4 5, Zha. Smith 3-7 0-0 6, Gray 0-1 1-2 1, Stevenson 2-7 0-0 5, Evans 7-17 4-4 19, Hamilton IV 4-9 0-0 9, Francis 3-6 1-2 8, Culver 4-10 0-2 9, Moretti 1-7 0-0 2. Totals 25-67 9-14 65.
OKLAHOMA – Lattin 4-5 3-4 11, Manek 2-6 0-0 4, James 5-10 2-2 15, Odomes 3-4 3-3 9, Young 7-23 9-11 27, Mcneace 0-2 0-0 0, Freeman 0-2 0-0 0, Shepherd 0-1 0-0 0, Lazenby 0-0 0-0 0, McGusty 2-4 1-1 5, Doolittle 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 25-61 18-21 75.
Halftime score: Texas Tech 31, Oklahoma 29. 3-point goals: Texas Tech 6-25 (Stevenson 1-5, Hamilton IV 1-3, Francis 1-3, Culver 1-4, Moretti 1-5), Oklahoma 7-22 (James 3-7, Young 4-10). Total fouls: Texas Tech 16, Oklahoma 14. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Texas Tech 44 (Hamilton IV 9, Odiase 9), Oklahoma 37 (Lattin 8). Assists: Texas Tech 6 (Zha. Smith 2, Hamilton IV 2), Oklahoma 12 (Young 9). Steals: Texas Tech 4 (Zha. Smith 2), Oklahoma 7 (Young 4). Turnovers: Texas Tech 15 (Moretti 4), Oklahoma 10 (Young 4). Blocked shots: Texas Tech 8 (Odiase 3), Oklahoma (Lattin 7). Records: No. 8 Texas Tech 14-2 overall, 3-1 in the Big 12; No. 9 Oklahoma 13-2, 3-1.