March 8, 2003

 

By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - A Texas sophomore ruined Oklahoma's senior day.

T.J. Ford, after scoring just four points in the first half, led No. 4 Texas back from a 15-point second-half deficit as the Longhorns ended No. 5 Oklahoma's 37-game home winning streak Saturday with a 76-71 victory.

Ford scored 14 second-half points, all in the final 10 minutes, as Texas (22-5, 13-3) swept the season series from the Sooners and locked up the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament.

"When we got up 15, you could tell he was like, 'I'm tired of these plays, I want to go make plays,"' Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said of Ford.

Ford's biggest shot was his last - a fallaway jumper over Quannas White from about 10 feet that gave the Longhorns a 74-71 lead with 19 seconds remaining. After three missed shots by Oklahoma, two free throws by James Thomas with 1.2 seconds left sealed it.

"Everyone made big shots, not just myself," said Ford, who had 10 assists and one turnover.

"When we get down, we really look to me to make things happen and I just take it upon myself, that we're going to get back in the game and I've just got to find a way to get momentum."

Oklahoma (21-6, 12-3) seemed to have all the momentum when Hollis Price, one of four seniors playing their final home game, hit a 3-pointer to give the Sooners a 58-43 lead with 13:48 remaining.

But Brian Boddicker hit a 3 at the other end to start a 9-0 run that brought Texas within 58-52 with just over 11 minutes to play.

Ford got going with two free throws that made it 62-54. He added a three-point play and then a drive through the lane as Texas got within 65-59.

A three-point play by Price, who scored 22 points, made it 68-59 with 6:10 remaining before Ford hit a jumper, Thomas scored in close and Royal Ivey hit a pull-up jumper to get the Longhorns within 68-65 with 4:48 left.

White's 3-pointer with 4:19 to play gave Oklahoma a 71-65 lead, but proved to be the Sooners' final points. They were 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-5 from the free throw line down the stretch, including the front of a 1-and-1.

"You've got to make your free throws in the last two minutes, let's face it," Sampson said.

With the Sooners leading 71-65, Ford made a jumper, Thomas scored in the lane and Ivey made a jumper to tie it at 71 with 1:30 left. After Johnnie Gilbert missed two free throws, Ford made one with 54 seconds left and Boddicker rebounded the second. Ford then hit his fallaway for a 74-71 lead.

"I contested all of his shots that he made," White said. "The last one when he drove to the basket and he shot it over me, that was just a big shot."

Oklahoma had three chances in the final 12 seconds, but all missed - a jumper by Price, a lob to Kevin Bookout on an inbounds pass and, finally, a 3-pointer by De'Angelo Alexander, which was rebounded by Thomas with 1.2 seconds left.

"We played hard, but we just didn't get the job done. That's the upsetting part about this game," Price said. "Down the stretch we didn't make the plays."

Price didn't score until the 14:27 mark of the first half, then had 14 points in just over five minutes and the Sooners took an eight-point halftime lead.

Alexander made three straight baskets early in the second half as Oklahoma took a 50-36 lead. The margin grew to 15 a few minutes later before Texas rallied.

"Overall, coming down the stretch, it took a great team effort and we got it," Texas coach Rick Barnes said.