Jan. 17, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- For two teams struggling to find their footing in the Big 12, any victory is precious.
A strong finish by Romero Osby earned Oklahoma its second win in a row and kept Texas Tech reeling.
Steven Pledger scored 17 points and Osby came up with 11 of his 15 points in the final 4 minutes to lift the Sooners to a 64-55 win over the Red Raiders on Tuesday night.
"To win and learn is good, and in this league, wins are tough to come by," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "We've got to be thrilled by any we get."
The two teams who were picked to finish in a tie for last in the conference and had combined to lose 24 of their last 29 games against Big 12 competition ended up playing a ragged game in which 46 fouls were called and neither team made even 40 percent of its shots.
Texas Tech (7-10, 0-5) trailed throughout the second half but pulled within 48-47 when Jordan Tolbert put back his own miss with 4:18 to play. Robert Lewandowski had a chance underneath to give the Red Raiders the lead but missed, and the Sooners (12-5, 2-3) pulled away after that.
Osby scored underneath after a timeout, and he added a two-handed slam and seven free throws down the stretch to close it out.
"Not necessarily a pretty win, but a good win. I thought guys really worked hard on both teams all night long," Kruger said. "Defensively, both teams had the other out of rhythm. Neither shot it particularly well, but both worked really hard."
Javarez Willis scored 16 points and Jaye Crockett had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Texas Tech, which got just 23 points on 6 for 28 shooting from its starters. Overall, Tech converted only 15 of 46 shots, or 33 percent.
After making 50 percent of their shots during nonconference play to rank ninth in the nation, the Red Raiders haven't reached 40 percent in any of their five Big 12 games.
Tolbert missed his first eight shots, most of them close to the basket, and the Red Raiders were 8 for 34 from inside the arc while making half of their 14 3-point attempts.
"We did a better job today of throwing it in there, but finishing around the basket is atrocious," coach Billy Gillispie said. "We continue to try to not use the backboard, we continue to try to not finish strong. It's just killing us, and it killed us tonight.
"We had so many opportunities one foot away from the basket."
The Sooners had the opposite problem, missing 10 of their 11 3-point attempts.
They ended up shooting 39 percent overall and made up for their shooting troubles by capitalizing on 21 Tech turnovers.
Andrew Fitzgerald added 13 points to finish in double figures for the 12th straight game, and Cameron Clark scored 10 for Oklahoma.
"I like the energy, I like the enthusiasm. We just have to keep growing," Kruger said. "We've got to keep getting better. The guys know that. Any time you can win a ballgame, it reinforces a lot of good stuff."
After falling behind with a sloppy finish to the first half, the Red Raiders quickly earned their way into the bonus in the second half and chipped away at Oklahoma's lead. Ty Nurse hit a 3-pointer to start a run of seven straight Tech points, and Tolbert's two free throws cut the deficit down to 34-32 with 14:04 to play.
Tolbert missed a shot at the tie before Osby split two defenders for a two-handed slam for Oklahoma. Tolbert then missed the front end of a one-and-one on consecutive possessions to give the Sooners a little breathing room.
Crockett led the Red Raiders back again, converting a three-point play and then banking in a jumper before Tolbert's first made basket got Tech back within one.
Sam Grooms followed Osby's basket with a jumper from the right side, and Pledger got fouled in transition after a steal. With the shot clock running down, Carl Blair drove the lane and dropped the ball off to Osby for a two-handed jam that made it 56-48 with 1:30 to play.
Texas Tech never got closer than five after that.
"I feel like we were starting to get a little momentum there. We kind of got the crowd energized and it kind of got us seeing the ball go through the basket, because we had a little stretch there where we didn't make a couple baskets," Osby said.
"Carl made a great move and got it to me, and I did my best to finish it."
The Red Raiders fell behind to stay with a sloppy stretch at the end of the first half when they turned the ball over on eight of their final 12 possessions -- including Lewandowski traveling three times.
Osby tipped in Pledger's miss to get the Sooners going on a 13-4 run to close the first half with a 29-22 lead. Tech finished the first half with 15 turnovers while making only seven of 19 shots.
"This has nothing to do with intelligence: I'm talking about we can't count to 10 very good," Gillispie said.
"The greatest players, they can count and account for every single player on the court, so they're able to pass the ball on time on target. ... We have a hard time. The ball sticks in our hands."