Freshman guard Matt Coleman stood near half court and raised his arms to the sold-out crowd. The Frank Erwin Center, as electric as it has been all season, erupted in response.
The display came on the heels of a furious Texas rally as the Longhorns erased a 10-point second-half deficit to upset No. 12 Oklahoma, 79-74, in the Red River Showdown on Saturday evening.
The Longhorns (15–8, 5–5 Big 12) trailed for all but seven minutes of the game before a late run earned them the victory. Coleman finished with a game-high 22 points, including a number of huge shots down the stretch to lead Texas to its third Big 12 home upset over a ranked opponent this season.
“The crowd tonight was phenomenal,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “They really gave us a lift, because our guys didn’t have great energy early on. There was a level of fatigue that our guys felt from a long week. But I’m proud that they found enough to be within striking distance for the whole game and to make that big run at the end and come back and win.”
Postgame show live from The Erwin Center as Texas upsets No. 12 Oklahoma, 79-74. https://t.co/wn97VU1dGN— Daily Texan Sports (@texansports) February 4, 2018
Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young was the focal point for the Longhorns on defense — and for the home crowd. The Frank Erwin Center erupted with boos as his name was called in the starting lineup, and the jeers lasted all night.
On the first possession for the Sooners, Young caught the ball in the corner and faced up. His hesitation move was quickly cut off on the baseline, and the arena went wild as he was forced to pass the ball back to the top.
But early on Young never so much as glanced at the sea of burnt orange and white.
Young sank a deep three early before getting into the lane for a high floater over freshman forward Mo Bamba. Moments later Young found an open shooter in the corner, and then a man under the basket in transition. The guard collected six assists in the opening 10 minutes as Oklahoma jumped out to a 24-17 lead.
On the other end Bamba struggled to find his shot. The forward coughed up an easy turnover on a move to the rim before getting stripped in the lane on the ensuing possession.
Bamba’s hesitance on both ends turned into easy Oklahoma baskets as the Sooners torched Texas in the paint in the first half.
The Longhorns’ biggest advantage suddenly became a glaring weakness as the team found itself unable to get a stop in the lane. Thirty-four of the Sooners’ first 40 points came under the rim as they pulled ahead on what seemed like an endless array of dunks and layups. Oklahoma entered the break ahead 40-35.
“Early in the game we were a step slow,” Smart said. “They were getting wherever they wanted. Trae Young had guys on ice skates. And they were getting into the paint for drop-offs and lob dunks. So it was about picking up our defensive energy.”
The second half saw Texas bring a renewed emphasis on offense.
The Longhorns began with a multi-action set that ended in a Bamba hook shot. The next time down the floor, the team ran a similar series of screens and cuts which led to an open jumper by freshman guard Jase Febres to cut the lead to three.
But Young came out firing. After the nation’s leading scorer dished out nine assists in the first half, the guard scored a quick five points before finding a man under the basket for another uncontested dunk.
The Sooners made it a double-digit lead with 16 minutes to play, and Smart was forced to take a timeout. The momentum had shifted firmly in the favor of Oklahoma as the sound of the arena fell to an uneasy murmur.
“We were down 10, and I felt like our spirit wasn’t great at that moment,” Coleman said. “We just needed something — a stop, a block, a steal, a dunk — something to get us over that hump. And we found something and ran with it.”
But as fast as the lead came, it went. A second-half rally, fueled by the roaring crowd, saw junior guard Kerwin Roach II answer with a three and Bamba hit a pair at the line to cut the lead to four.
Texas immediately switched to full-court pressure and forced a turnover, leading to more Roach free throws.
Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski tied the game at 66 with just over five minutes left in the game, before Coleman gave the Longhorns their first lead of the second half — a lead they would not relinquish.
The Sooners went ice-cold down the stretch with under two minutes to play as Texas extended the lead to four. Bamba iced the game on a reverse alley-oop, and Texas escaped with the upset.
“We just have each other’s backs, and it's working,” Roach said. “And that’s what separates us from any other team. We really do genuinely care for each other, and we just went out there and displayed it with our defense.”