Oklahoma Breakdown

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You could call it a comeback for Jordan Hamilton if the sophomore swingman didn’t already average a team-best 18.5 points per outing. But after a five-game slump in which he hit just 31.5 percent of his shots, Thursday’s 22-point performance was a turnaround of sorts for Hamilton as Texas defeated Oklahoma 74-54 in the second round of the Big 12 tournament. “I had some days off, and we had a chance to go on and practice and execute and listen to what Coach has been saying,” Hamilton said. Hamilton was dangerous in close, scoring eight of his points in the paint, and from afar with two treys plus a few more long jumpers. “He knows when to take shots and when to turn them down,” said Texas guard Dogus Balbay. “We believe in him.” On a day when top-seeded Kansas barely escaped Oklahoma State and No. 4 seed Kansas State fell, the Longhorns (26-6, 14-3 Big 12) blew out the Sooners. They showed signs of their mid-season form — when they rattled off a record 11-straight conference wins — with accurate shooting and stifling defense. Texas dominated 39-23 on the glass and out-scored its opponent 34-18 in the paint. “We got back to getting on the glass,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes. “I thought we really looked to help each other.” Oklahoma (14-18, 5-11) was 40.4 percent from the field, well above average for a Texas opponent, but attempted 10 fewer shots than Texas. “Texas can really pressure defensively,” said Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. “They obviously have depth where they can keep coming at you in waves.” And it was bench players that helped sustain the Texas lead when its starters’ shots weren’t falling. Senior guard Jai Lucas was first off the bench for the Longhorns and scored eight points in 20 minutes to go along with three assists. Fellow guard J’Covan Brown finished with 11 points and five assists and supplied some timely jumpers to break a number of scoring droughts. At one point, the only starter on the floor was Cory Joseph. “I thought our bench was terrific tonight,” Barnes said. It all started with an 11-2 opening run that had Texas way out in front. The team shot 62.1 percent in the opening period. “Their pressure got to us,” said Oklahoma senior guard Cade Davis. “We were kind of forcing shots.” Davis put up a team-high 17 points for the Sooners. The 6-foot-5 guard was a matchup problem for the Longhorns on the perimeter, but Texas forward Alexis Wangmene helped limit his scoring drives in the second half. “It was hard, but I was supposed to do it,” Wangmene said. Texas closed the half on a 10-2 run to enter the break up by 23. But Oklahoma out-scored the Longhorns 19-10 at the start of the second half, prompting Barnes to call a timeout with 12:28 remaining in the game. “Playing with a lead is always hard,” Lucas said. “We just have to find a way to keep playing as if the score is 0-0.” Even as Texas relented, allowing some easy buckets — including 14 points off turnovers for Oklahoma — the lead was never seriously threatened. The Sooners got within 13 but couldn’t manage to trim the gap any more. With a little over a minute left, Oklahoma’s Davis was pulled from the game, and he solemnly hugged each teammate and member of the coaching staff on the bench before sitting down. It was that kind of night for the Sooners, who lost all three of their contests versus Texas this year by an average of 18.6 points.