NORMAN, Okla. — Dejan Kravic floated through the lane, spun around defenders and displayed impressive touch while unfurling the totality of his offensive arsenal Wednesday night against Oklahoma.
But Kravic and the rest of his Texas Tech teammates had no answers for Oklahoma’s show of brute strength, as the Sooners turned a slim halftime lead into a 81-63 victory inside Lloyd Noble Center by pounding away inside.
"In the second half, they just got whatever they wanted in the post," Kravic said.
Kravic, the 6-foot-11 junior, scored 20 points on 8 of 10 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. But in the opening stages of the second half, he and the rest of the Red Raiders couldn’t contain Oklahoma’s Romero Osby. The senior scored nine of his 15 second-half points during the first four minutes of the period, ballooning a five-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage.
The Red Raiders hung tough, once cutting the deficit to 57-51 on a Kravic offensive rebound and layup, but the physical Sooners never let the margin get any closer than that, finishing the game on a 24-12 run.
“It really came down to toughness for us the whole game,” Tech coach Chris Walker said. “I think if we were a little tougher and rebounded the ball a little bit better, it could have been the difference in the game.”
Oklahoma won the battle on the glass, 40-32, but those numbers didn’t tell the whole story. At one point midway through second half, 6-foot-1 Oklahoma point guard Sam Grooms was lying on his back in the middle of three Red Raiders and still managed to pull down an offensive rebound.
When the bounces did go their way, the Sooners took advantage by shooting 58 percent in the second half (15 of 26).
“We weren’t physical enough,” said Jaye Crockett, who notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds but struggled from the field (5 of 14; 0 of 4 from 3-point range). "We didn't get bodies on anyone. We were giving them third and fourth chances."
It was the third straight loss for Tech (8-7, 1-3 in Big 12 play), while Oklahoma (12-3, 3-0) won its third in a row to start conference play.
“We came out in the second half and Romero (Osby) got off to a good start getting the ball inside a little more,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We just played much better in the second half and moved the ball.”
Five Sooners scored in double figures, including freshman Buddy Hield, who scored 16 and staged a personal 5-0 run that helped swing momentum firmly in Oklahoma’s favor. After Jordan Tolbert hit a layup to cut the lead to 50-42, Hield hit a 3-pointer, then stole Tech’s inbound pass and layed it in. All of a sudden the Sooners were up 13.
“That was just me trying to be aggressive,” Hield said. “I fell down but got back up in a good place. I saw the pass and I was able to make the steal, which turned out to be a big play for our team.”
Tech’s loss was its second in a row in which it was within striking distance at halftime, only to fade away down the stretch. Walker said the next step for his young team is understanding the intensity level that is required on every possession.
“Two games in a row where we’ve played decent in the first half,” Walker said, “and then we lose focus on the game plan and it kind of gets away from us.”
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BIG 12 CONFERENCE — MEN
Conference All Games
W L Pct. W L Pct.
Kansas 3 0 1.000 14 1 .933
Kansas State 3 0 1.000 15 2 .882
Oklahoma 3 0 1.000 12 3 .800
Baylor 3 1 .750 11 5 .688
Iowa State 2 1 .667 12 4 .750
Oklahoma St. 1 2 .333 11 4 .733
Texas Tech 1 3 .250 8 7 .533
West Virginia 1 3 .250 8 8 .500
Texas 0 3 .000 8 8 .500
TCU 0 4 .000 9 8 .529
Kansas 61, Baylor 44
Oklahoma 81, Texas Tech 63
Kansas State 67, TCU 54
Iowa State 67, West Virginia 64
Iowa State at TCU, 12:30 p.m.
West Virginia at Purdue, 1 p.m.
Kansas at Texas, 1 p.m.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 1 p.m.
Hardin-Simmons at Baylor, 2 p.m.
Oklahoma at Kansas State, 3 p.m.