NORMAN — Oklahoma’s season was on life support, but on Wednesday night Umoja Gibson delivered a much-needed jolt.
Hosting the No. 9-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, a 3-point barrage from the OU senior helped deliver a 70-55 upset at the Lloyd Noble Center.
“I thought we had our best game of playing 40 minutes in a long time,” Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser said after the game in a Zoom press conference.
The victory ended a three-game skid, pushing the Sooners to 14-10 overall this season, and 4-7 in Big 12 play. With the loss, Texas Tech fell to 18-6 (7-4).
On the heels of last Saturday’s Bedlam defeat, where Gibson was held to just two points on 0-of-6 shooting, Moser gave Gibson the green light to let it fly from deep.
“He took it to heart,” Moser said. “… He got in the gym, got reps up, didn’t panic, went to work.
“… He was a two-way player tonight.”
Leading all scorers with 30 points, Gibson knocked down 8-of-11 from behind the arc, tying his career high.
“I was in a great rhythm,” Gibson said after the game in a Zoom press conference. “Just want to give a shoutout to my teammates for finding me on the open looks. All throughout my workouts I was just practicing on making open shots.
“This year I've been getting a lot of open looks, just haven't been able to capitalize on them… So my rhythm came from working out and my past workouts prior to the game.”
Gibson’s display helped OU unravel the Texas Tech defense, which entered the contest ranked No. 13 in the country in scoring defense.
In support of Gibson, Elijah Harkless and Jordan Goldwire both had nice bounce-back games as well.
Harkless finished as Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer with 13 points, but most importantly followed up his eight-turnover performance against Oklahoma State with a zero turnover night against the Red Raiders.
“It's huge,” Moser said of Harkless’ contributions. “I know he got out of the starting lineup, but he's come back and that's what you want. That's what coaches hope for.
“… He's come to work with his hard hat every day. He's fought through it. Trying to be simple with him… I think he's confident.”
Battling through first-half foul trouble, Goldwire also added double-digit points for OU. The senior guard finished with 10 points and added four rebounds and four assists.
Outside of an 8-0 Texas Tech run that put the Red Raiders up 21-14 in the first half, the Sooners did a much better job of not letting a single turnover compound into mistake after mistake. Mark Adams’ team's largest lead of the night was a 30-23 scoreline just before halftime, meaning the Oklahoma never had to expend tons of energy to get back into the game.
An 8-2 run to start the second half, aided by a Harkless triple and a Tanner Groves dunk — both on nifty assists by Goldwire — put the Sooners back in front less than 2 1/2 minutes after the break, and it set the table for a tense battle down the stretch.
Gibson hit back-to-back 3s to give Oklahoma a seven-point lead with 13 minutes left, and it provided the Sooners all the cushion they would need to keep Texas Tech at bay and pull off the upset.
As a team, Oklahoma hit 13 3-pointers, tying the previous season high (set in the Sooners’ victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Dec. 12.
Despite the tough run of results as of late, Moser had been preaching that every night was a big opportunity in the Big 12, and he was overjoyed his team was able to finally seize the moment on Wednesday night.
“It's huge,” Moser said. “That's what I kept on saying. You have to stay positive.
“… Put this one in the bank and we have to get another one. We needed that. We needed a signature win at this time after losing a handful in a row.”
Moser will the take the show on the road, carrying the team’s momentum north to play the No. 8-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Tip-off between the Sooners and the Jayhawks is slated for noon Saturday, and the game will be broadcast on CBS.
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