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OU Basketball: Oklahoma Falls to Texas Tech in De'Vion Harmon's Return to Norman

The Sooners were unable to take advantage of a strong defensive start in a losing effort against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Tuesday night.

NORMAN — Active hands weren’t enough to push Oklahoma over the top on Tuesday night.

The OU defense forced 16 turnovers against Texas Tech, but the Sooners didn’t do enough against the shots the Red Raiders did put up.

Texas Tech overcame the sloppy play to down Oklahoma 74-63 as former Sooner De’Vion Harmon emerged victorious in his return to the Lloyd Noble Center.

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Porter Moser’s defensive game plan appeared to be spot on in the early stages of the contest.

Oklahoma (13-15 overall, 3-11 Big 12) forced 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, handing the ball back to Texas Tech (16-12, 5-10) just three times in the process.

But the Red Raiders still connected on 13-of-20 field goal attempts and managed to take a 33-31 lead into halftime.

“I think they were efficient. I think in the first half they were like 4-for-6 from 3,” Moser said after the game. “But I thought we were doing some good things. Being scrappy. Causing turnovers. Active hands. Deflections.

“I thought we were doing all those things in the first half. And… it was you know we were down at half because offensively we just missed a ton of shots.”

While the Sooners tried to turn up the heat defensively, OU leading scorer Grant Sherfield struggled offenjveily in the first half.

Sherfield scored seven points, but shot just 2-of-8 from the floor, and the Sooners needed an offensive jolt out of the locker room.

With Sherfield struggling to find any rhythm, Tanner Groves picked up the slack offensively.

OU’s lone super senior hit 3-of-4 his shots in the second half, including a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to pull the Sooner back within four points with 5:46 remaining.

Texas Tech sucked whatever small hopes the home fans had out of the arena down the stretch, as the Red Raiders got to the paint over and over to close out the win.

Oklahoma allowed 26 of Texas Tech’s 40 points in the paint in the second half, and the Red Raiders created separation on the scoreboard as they did a better job of taking care of the basketball after halftime.

“(Fardaws Aimaq) makes them a really, really different team because he can pass,” Moser said. “He can post up and score. He knocked down a 3. He really changes them.”

Aimaq led the Red Raiders with 19 points, capitalizing on Oklahoma’s struggles to defend in the post.

Groves finished as OU’s leading scorer with 16 points, and a trio of Sooners finished just behind him.

Jalen Hill added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists while Sherfield and Milos Uzan both contributed 10 points apiece.

The Sooners ended up winning the turnover battle 16-8, but Texas Tech was able to close the gap in points off turnovers, only trailing OU by one point in the category.

Texas Tech also beat Oklahoma on the boards, out-rebounding the Sooners 38-22.

“It impacted the game a lot. Especially down the stretch,” Moser said. “… . One of the reasons we didn’t get as many rebounds is we either had a turnover or they were making a shot. There weren’t many missed shots. I thought their offensive rebounds were timely.

“Those last two in the final five minutes are really tough when you’re battling to get stops, and you didn’t get them.”

OU’s bench was shortened hours before the game got rolling with sophomore guard Bijan Cortes announced he would be taking a break from basketball.

That was the least of Moser’s concerns, as he just wants Cortes to focus on whatever is best for him.

“My message to him is I love him,” Moser said. “We miss him in this program. And for Bijan all my prayers are for him. And want him — he’s going to be welcomed with absolutely open arms.

“The only thing he’s got from us is total love and support. He means a lot to our program. And my just thoughts and prayers and love is with Bijan. So we’re ready to embrace him whenever he feels he can come back.”

The loss was yet another low in what has been a February to forget for the Sooners.

Weeks after getting blown out by West Virginia 93-61 on the road, Oklahoma suffered yet another loss to the other member of the bottom three in the Big 12 to leave OU as the clear cellar dwellers in the conference.

But OU will have one more chance to chance it’s fortunes before the calendar turns to March.

Moser’s team will hit the road to take on the Iowa State Cyclones at 11 a.m. on Saturday. 

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