It was the tale of two halves in Norman Wednesday evening. Romero Osby and Buddy Hield combined for 29 points in the second half alone, as the Oklahoma Sooners overcame early struggles to beat Texas Tech 81-63 at the Lloyd Noble Center. The duo was seemingly unstoppable down the stretch as the Sooners improved to 12-3 (3-0) on the year. The Sooners needed the type of second half they had after shooting just 39% in the first. Oklahoma outscored the Red Raiders 47-34 and shot 58% in the second half on the way to the win.
The Sooner defense was especially stingy, playing a huge part in the triumph. Oklahoma forced 14 Red Raider turnovers, swiped seven steals and swatted four blocks.
Osby finished with 17 points on 6-10 shooting and six rebounds. Despite playing only seven minutes in the first half, and 22 minutes overall, he led the Sooners in scoring.
The real story however, was Buddy Hield. The freshman was all over the floor tonight, as fans should be getting accustomed to seeing. Hield stuffed the stat sheet for 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. What is most impressive however is, most of his damage was done in the second half. Hield entered halftime with just two points, no assists and no steals. Lon Kruger’s halftime speech must have been mighty inspiring, because Hield came out surging, and is one of the key reasons the Sooners came out with victory in hand. He is the Sooner Player of the Game.
All in all, five different Sooners logged double figures. Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitzgerald and Cameron Clark all join Osby and Hield as double digit scorers. Clark and Fitzgerald did so as reserves and accounted for 22 of the Sooners 28 bench points.
Amath M’Baye scored two of the Sooners first three baskets, but then disappeared. He finished with just 7 points and five rebounds.
Sam Grooms played 20 minutes and did not score a single point, but what he did do was get his teammates involved. Grooms paced the Sooner offense for a team-high five assists and also grabbed four rebounds.
The game got off to a sluggish start, dragging on at an almost painful pace. The Sooners missed four of their first five shot attempts, and there was a three minute stretch from 16:42 to 13:35 in which neither team managed a bucket. Finally the slump was broken with a layup from Dejan Kravic that knotted the game at seven. The Sooners, sparked by Fitzgerald, answered with a 6-0 run to take a 13-7 lead.
The Red Raiders wouldn’t go down without a fight however, coming within a point, but Fitzgerald was simply on fire. Riding his hot hand, the Sooners would not relinquish the lead, and after a pair of Buddy Hield free throws, would go into the break up 34-29. Fitzgerald ended the half with 10 points.
Out of halftime, it was the Hield and Osby show. Osby knocked down a jumper and then a layup and Hield was fouled and converted both free throws, and then a dunk by Osby made the lead nine. To cap it all off, Hield scored five points in a span of 10 seconds, nailing a three pointer and then quickly turning around on defense for the steal and converting the layup. This sent the crowd into a fervid frenzy and forced a Red Raider timeout. The two combined to score Oklahoma’s first 21 points of the half, and helped them jump out to as much as a 13 point advantage.
After Hield’s 5-point play, the Sooners never trailed again by more than six, and outscored Texas Tech 27-12 in the final nine minutes of the game.
Next up the Sooners will take their unbeaten conference record to Manhattan, where they will face the Kansas State Wildcats, coach Lon Kruger’s alma mater. The Wildcats have also gotten through conference play unblemished, and this will look to be the Sooners toughest test of league play thus far. Oklahoma swept the Wildcats last season, but both teams have undergone major changes since then so the matchup will be interesting. Tip-off is set for 3 PM CST.
Want more Sooner hoops? Follow me on Twitter @ChandlerVessels