Norense Odiase is known for his toughness and energy.
On Tuesday night, the redshirt junior found ways to display both traits as No. 7 Texas Tech hosted No. 23 Oklahoma in a key Big 12 home game.
Odiase used all of his 6-foot-9, 245-pound frame to set a screen for a teammate toward the top of the 3-point line. Keenan Evans used the play to drive down the middle of the lane and dunk the ball to bring a sold-out crowd inside United Supermarkets Arena to its feet.
The play was one of many between the duo -- who combined for 40 points -- that helped spark the Red Raiders in the second half as they fended off a pesky Sooners squad 88-78.
"I just wanted to play with energy, play consistent with energy," said Odiase, who started with nine points in the first half. "Try to get my team going with leadership. Just playing hard, selling out. So everybody sells out. It really helped us tonight."
The Red Raiders (22-4 overall, 10-3 in the Big 12) increased their winning streak to seven games and improved to 16-0 in designated home games. The Sooners (16-9, 6-7) dropped their fourth straight game.
"We're defending. We're locking people down," Odiase said of how the Red Raiders have grown. "We're really harping on defense. ... We're tightening it up together in these last six to seven games. We've been playing on that end."
Evans, off a screen just off the top of the 3-point line from Odiase, drove down the middle of the lane before dunking the ball with two hands that brought the crowd to its feet and provided the Red Raiders with a 57-53 advantage around the 13-minute mark of the second half.
After an Oklahoma timeout, Evans returned the favor, dishing the ball to Odiase who dunked with authority and increased the lead to 59-53 with 12:19 left in the game.
The Sooners’ Kameron McGusty knotted the game up by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers, while also making two free throws, to put things at 61-61 at the 9 1/2-minute mark.
The Red Raiders closed the rest of the contest on a 27-17 run to salt away the victory.
"Hard-fought. I thought both guys on both teams played really hard," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "Last five minutes, they made the plays they needed to and did things that teams leading conferences do: They made their free throws. ... Terrific club, disappointed in the loss. But I thought the fight was there and we just have to finish stronger."
Trae Young, who was leading the country in scoring average and steals, finished with 19 points on 4-of-16 shooting, seven assists and six turnovers. The freshman guard also finished 0 for 9 from the 3-point line.
"It was tough," said Young, who also went 11 for 11 from the free-throw line. "I haven't been able to find a rhythm from anywhere on the court, here on the road recently. Just got to get better. Got to improve, and I will."
The first half looked to be another grind-it-out game until both teams got flowing on offense.
Christian James was the standalone scorer for the Sooners early on.
The junior guard, who scored 22 points in a loss to Iowa State, continued to find the bottom of the bucket as he scored the first eight points of the game to help Oklahoma take an 8-4 advantage by the 16-minute mark.
After the offensive burst, the Red Raiders answered with a 9-2 run — capped off by a Niem Stevenson 3 — to take their first lead at 13-10 almost three minutes later.
"It was definitely nice," said Stevenson, who drained a circus-shot corner 3-pointer in the second half and looks to be back to his offensive form with 12 points and seven rebounds Tuesday. "After just seeing the crowd get involved and my team."
From that point forward, both teams battled until Oklahoma — thanks to four free throws from Young in the final minute and a half — enjoyed a 37-36 lead at the break.
Odiase, who had five points in the first half, cut a four-point deficit in half by making a putback and drawing a foul. He missed the subsequent free throw.
But the Red Raiders turned things around by outscoring the Sooners 52-41 in the final 20 minutes.
Freshman Zhaire Smith finished with 13 points and four rebounds, making sure Texas Tech notched its second straight game with four players in double figures.
"I thought it was a gutsy game," Tech coach Chris Beard said. "We knew it was going to be a 40-minute game with Oklahoma. And we knew we were going to have to play some good offense tonight, too. You're not going to win against these guys just by guarding. You've got to put the ball in the basket. I was really happy for our players tonight."
Player of the game
Keenan Evans, Sr., Guard, Texas Tech
The senior scored 26 points, including 17 in the second half, to help the Red Raiders earn a season split with the Sooners. He also chipped in four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Texas Tech is 9-13 when ranked and playing against a ranked opponent. That includes a 4-1 record this season. … Going into Tuesday’s game, Oklahoma led the country in big wins: combining total number of wins over Top 25 teams (six) and top 10 teams (four). Sooner freshman guard Trae Young was born in Lubbock, where his father, Rayford, played four season for the Red Raiders from (1996-2000). Rayford and Trae are the only father-son combo to both play men’s basketball in the Big 12 since its inception in 1996.
No. 7 Texas Tech plays a 6:30 p.m. Saturday road game against Baylor. The contest is scheduled to be televised on ESPNU.
No. 23 Oklahoma hosts Texas at 11 a.m. Saturday with the game televised on ESPN.
TEXAS TECH 88, OKLAHOMA 78
OKLAHOMA – Odomes 1-1 0-3 2, Lattin 0-0 0-0 0, Manek 3-8 0-0 6, James 8-14 3-4 23, Young 4-16 11-11 19, McNeace 5-7 1-3 11, McGusty 3-5 4-4 13, Doolittle 2-4 0-0 4, Shepherd 0-1 0-0 0, Lazenby 0-0 0-0 0, Freeman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 19-25 78.
TEXAS TECH – Zh. Smith 3-8 5-6 13, Gray 2-2 0-0 4, Odiase 6-11 2-4 14, Culver 2-8 2-2 7, Evans 9-15 4-6 26, Hamilton 3-5 0-0 8, Stevenson 3-6 4-5 12, Francis 2-7 0-0 4, Webster 0-0 0-2 0, Moretti 0-0 0-0 0, Ondigo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 17-25 88.
Halftime score: Oklahoma 37, Texas Tech 36. 3-point goals: Oklahoma 7-22 (James 4-8, McGusty 3-3, Manek 0-2, Young 0-9), Texas Tech 11-21 (Evans 4-7, Zh. Smith 2-2, Stevenson 2-2, Hamilton 2-4, Culver 1-3, Francis 0-3). Total fouls: Oklahoma 25, Texas Tech 18. Fouled out: Doolittle. Rebounds: Oklahoma 32 (McNeace 9), Texas Tech 33 (Stevenson 7). Assists: Oklahoma 9 (Young 6), Texas Tech 15 (Zh. Smith 3, Culver 3, Stevenson 3). Steals: Oklahoma 5 (Lattin 2), Texas Tech 7 (Evans 2, Hamilton 2). Turnovers: Oklahoma 14 (Young 6), Texas Tech 10 (Odiase 3). Blocked shots: Oklahoma 4 (McNeace 3), Texas Tech 3 (Evans, Culver, Stevenson). Records: Oklahoma 16-9, 6-7; Texas Tech 22-4, 10-3.