LUBBOCK- Looking to break through a four team log-jam for fourth place in the Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners ultimately fell short against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Oklahoma hung tight with the Red Raiders for a majority of the game, but Texas Tech imposed their will late to close out a 69-61 victory.
The loss drops the Sooners to 14-8 on the season and 4-5 in conference play.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Close, but no cigar
Time and time again this season, Oklahoma has failed to close out games against their best competition.
Against Kansas, the Sooners hung around for the better part of 30 minutes before giving way to costly turnovers which the Jayhawks often converted into points.
In Waco, TX. Oklahoma had a last second shot to beat the top ranked Baylor Bears and couldn’t finish the game off.
With eight minutes left against the Red Raiders, Oklahoma trailed by just a point. From then on, Oklahoma shot 3-of-11 from the field and committed three turnovers.
Playing a strong non-conference slate will only keep the Sooners’ NCAA tournament hopes alive for so long. At some point, they will have to get over the hump and close out games against their best competition to receive an invitation to the dance.
Three point defense rears its’ ugly head
Since the Kansas loss, three point defense may have been Oklahoma’s single greatest area of improvement.
Texas Tech pushed that to the wayside.
The Red Raiders shot 56 percent from deep, making 10-of-18 attempts.
Oklahoma was handed a lifeline by the Texas Tech’s poor shooting performance from the free throw line (65 percent for the evening), but consistently gave the Red Raiders too much space to launch from deep.
The Sooners will have to refocus and continue to lead with their defense while their own three point shooting continues to sputter.
Jamal Bieniemy looked himself again
It is no secret Bieniemy has struggled to shoot the ball this season.
Just as Alondes Williams sparked a string of good performances after a good game against Baylor, the Sooners will hope Bieniemy has similar results after his good night against the Red Raiders.
Bieniemy looked confident in the first half, unafraid to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. The solid start led him to a nine point performance on 4-of-10 shooting.
Most of Bieniemy’s positives on the defensive end of the floor don’t show up in the box score, but any improvement in his offensive game could be a great boon to the Sooners down the stretch.
Oklahoma will return home to host the West Virginia Mountaineers, who are currently ranked no. 13 in the AP Poll.
Tip-off from the Lloyd Noble Center is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be viewed on ESPNU.