Texas takes big lead in first half, refuses to let up against Sooners

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thursday’s first half brought back memories of Texas’ 11-game win streak to open Big 12 play.

The Longhorns got up early. They got up even more. And they didn’t stop.

Similar to the previous two times Texas played Oklahoma, it was all they needed. The Longhorns shot 62 percent from the field capped off by a Jordan Hamilton 3-point buzzer beater to head into the break with a 23-point lead.

The Longhorns ran their fast-tempo offense and held the Sooners in check enabling them to not play as uptight as recent games.

“We needed to have fun,” said guard J’Covan Brown. “We hadn’t had fun in a long time.”

The score got to be 43-20. Hamilton had 15 of those points as he shot 7-for-9 from the field to get out of his recent shooting slump.

From there on, the Longhorns were on cruise control in finishing off Oklahoma a third time this season — all by at least 16 points.

The Longhorns’ halftime lead was the largest they had had since Feb. 26 against Colorado when they were up by as many as 22. But Texas did not want a repeat of that performance in which they went on to lose.

“We came in at halftime and said we are going to keep up with the good work and not have another letdown,” said guard Dogus Balbay.

The Sooners slowly crept back and cut the Texas lead down to 13 with 6:17 remaining. The Sooners did not make a field goal the rest of the game as Texas out-scored them 11-4 to cap off the 74-54 win.

“We have to find a way to keep playing as if the score is 0-0 and not worry about the little things that come with having the lead,” said senior Jai Lucas.

The Longhorns set the tone early. The first-half run began on the first possession with a Tristan Thompson dunk. It was quickly followed by a block from Balbay who chased down Oklahoma’s Cade Davis the length of the court.

Following a Davis layup, the Longhorns regained the lead that they would not lose in scoring nine straight to go up 11-2.

Playing less than 24 hours after shooting 57 percent when they upset Baylor on Wednesday, the Sooners struggled to get going in the first half. Oklahoma had nine turnovers and shot 40 percent from the field.

The Sooners were unable to get to the free-throw line in the first half. In the second, they attempted 11 free throws and made them all.