Texas’ historic start to its conference season was never in considerable danger Tuesday night. But No. 20 Oklahoma made its archrival sweat in crunch time before the Longhorns ultimately pulled away in an 86-68 victory.
The Longhorns led 66-64 with under five minutes left but finished the game with 20-4 run to send the Sooners packing with a fourth-straight loss in the Red River Rivalry.
Texas moved to 7–0 in conference play for the first time in program history. The game marks back-to-back victories over top-20 opponents and an 11th-straight win — a streak extending back to Dec. 4.
Rebounding dominance has been the calling card of this gritty Texas team, and the Sooners found themselves outmatched on the glass 28-15 in the first half. Texas has controlled the rebound clash in 15 of its 17 games, good for the fourth-highest rebound margin nationally.
“I think tonight was a typical Big 12 night,” head coach Karen Aston said. “It was a really, really, really competitive game from the tip … and we made some plays down the stretch, and had some players make big buckets for us.”
Freshman forward Joyner Holmes led all players with 10 rebounds to go along with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. She converted on a crucial and-one layup to put Texas up five with 6:24 remaining in the fourth.
Junior guard Ariel Atkins poured in 19 points, and junior guard Brooke McCarty added 16 points, marking the 13th time this season that three or more Texas players scored double figures.
“Every day I get more comfortable,” Holmes said. “My role on this team, I’m still coming into it as a basketball player and as a person. But my teammates have my back 100 percent and knowing they have my back, I feel comfortable.”
The Longhorns’ defensive intensity gave the Sooners problems all night. Texas held Oklahoma to 35 percent shooting for the game, but still could not pull away until the final few minutes.
“We squandered away some possessions in the first half but we were playing really well,” Aston said. “And we had [Sooner guard Peyton] Little in foul trouble. We didn’t take advantage of that and we really allowed them to stay in the game, stay in striking distance.”
Up by six with under three minutes remaining, Atkins hit a jumper with the shot clock expiring to give Texas a 72-64 lead. Oklahoma never recovered on its way to a double-digit loss.
With the defeat, Oklahoma falls to 5–2 in conference play, sitting in second place behind unbeaten No. 2 Baylor and Texas, who are tied for the top spot.
After a convincing home win, Texas travels to Lubbock on Saturday for its second matchup of the season with Texas Tech (11–6, 3–3). In the first meeting, the Longhorns prevailed 67-47 at home.
“This was an important game because it was at home,” Aston said. “Everybody is trying to steal games on the road, see if they can get an edge somewhere. We’ve got a tough game on the road in Lubbock. Anytime you can get a road win, it’s a great win.”