LUBBOCK, Texas — The No. 23 Oklahoma men continue to fall.
For the seventh times in nine games, the Sooners lost, but this time it was on the road against Big 12 leader No. 7 Texas Tech, 88-78. That doesn't make it hurt any less as the Sooners fall below .500 for the first time this conference season.
For most of the night, the rolling Red Raiders had their defensive focus on Oklahoma freshman scoring sensation Trae Young, who was making his debut in the city where he was born.
Young, the son of former Texas Tech player Rayford Young, missed all nine 3-pointers while finishing with 19 points while getting booed just about every time he touched the ball in the fourth straight loss for the Sooners (16-9, 6-7 Big 12).
“I get that everywhere I go,” said Young, who finished 10 points below his average. “Just because I’m back here in Lubbock, I didn’t feel like I was going to get a welcome home type of feel. It’s crazy everywhere I go, so I wasn’t expecting anything different tonight.”
Keenan Evans led the way with 26 points as the Red Raiders (22-4, 10-3) won their seventh straight game, including a six-game Big 12 run that’s the best in the conference this season. They tied the Sooners for the most Top 25 wins nationally this season at six.
Texas Tech also maintained a one-game lead over No. 13 Kansas, which has won 13 straight regular-season titles. The constant the players see during the streak is defense, which was on display against Young.
“We’re locking people down,” said center Norense Odiase, who had 14 points . “We’re really harping on defense, much as we have all year. But we’re tightening it up together in these last six, seven games. We’ve been playing well on that end.”
Evans went 4 of 7 from 3-point range, including a fadeaway shot from the left corner that put Texas Tech ahead 79-71 with less than 2 minutes to go.
The senior guard added his second dunk of the second half moments later between a pair of Oklahoma 3s as the Sooners tried to stay close in a game that lacked late drama despite 17 ties and 11 lead changes.
Evans easily outscored Young in a matchup of the Big 12′s top two scorers.
“Trae doesn’t have many shooting nights like that,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “But I think you’ve got to give our guys some credit because we contested shots. We made it tough on him at times in the game.”
The crowd was ready for what will be Young’s only appearance in Lubbock if the freshman declares for the NBA draft this summer, as expected. One fan greeted him with a sign picturing Young as a child wearing a Texas Tech T-shirt and showing the school’s “guns up” sign.
Besides going without a 3 for the first time this season, Young gave the crowd a final moment to jeer when he dribbled the ball off his foot for his sixth turnover with the Sooners trailing by six with 41 seconds remaining. He was 4 of 16 from the field but made all 11 free throws.
Young, who went to high school not far from the OU campus in Norman, and his dad are the first father-son pair in the 22-year history of Big 12 basketball.
OU junior Christian James had a career high for the second straight game with 23 points in the third game that someone other than Young led the Sooners in scoring.
Kameron McGusty made all three of his 3-pointers and all four free throws for 13 points, and Jamuni McNeace had 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.