The Longhorns sunk Oklahoma in shocking fashion Monday night, erasing a five-point deficit with 17 seconds remaining to stun the Sooners 84-83.
Freshman guard Andrew Jones hit a game winning triple with 1.8 seconds left in the contest and helped Texas put an end to a five-game losing streak.
While the victory has to feel good for the Longhorns, the game’s dramatic conclusion shouldn’t mask the team’s deficiencies that were on display for most of the night.
The Longhorns did little to silence the offensive qualms that have surrounded them all season. They shot only 43 percent against an Oklahoma team that ranks next to last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense.
Texas turned the ball over 15 times, juxtaposed to only a modest 13 assists. And the team struggled greatly from the charity stripe, sinking only 18 of its 30 attempts.
Texas’ performance was also highlighted by their inability to put away an opponent. The burnt orange extended their lead to double-digits four times during the second half, but on each occasion the Sooners responded with a key shot or a quick run to keep the deficit manageable.
“We get too high and too low,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “We had a lead and we tried to nurse the lead. I think we play better when we’re aggressive. Teams like Oklahoma aren’t just going to go away.”
Excluding the final 17 seconds, the Longhorns once again struggled in crunch-time. The team led 73-67 with under five minutes remaining, but missed free throws and committed untimely turnovers. Texas’ poor shot selection helped the Sooners crawl back into the game and capture a late lead.
There were several bright spots for Texas. The team showed that it could win despite a poor performance from its standout freshman forward Jarrett Allen. Allen struggled from the field all night, scoring only 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting, and he turned the ball over five times.
Sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. gave a very encouraging performance. He scored 18 points in the victory, draining five of his 10 three-point attempts along the way. Davis had struggled mightily from deep coming into the contest, shooting only 23 percent from behind the arc.
But while these are promising signs, it still is only one game. Texas has shown the inability to win even when Allen has huge outings, and Davis has yet to string together a stretch of efficient shooting.
Smart agreed that it is too soon to declare this a turning point.
“We won the game, and there’s some things we can build on,” Smart said. “But our guys decide whether it’s a springboard and if we can learn from tonight.”
While it may be too soon to declare the Longhorns have turned the page, the victory is a step in the right direction. The team can take another step this weekend against Georgia.