Posted by Ryan Clark at 11:13AM

Texas Longhorns (17-9 overall, 7-6 Big 12) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-14, 5-8)
Gallagher-Iba Arena | Stillwater, OK | Tip: 3 P.M. CT
TV: Big 12 Network (Affiliate List) & ESPN Full Court | Internet: ESPN3
LRT Consecutive Game #213

The Texas Longhorns are riding high as they head into Stillwater, boasting a four-game winning streak and rising stock on the National Bubble Exchange. With just five games left in the regular season, the Horns still have their sights set on a 20-win season, something that may have seemed unimaginable in mid-January.

This afternoon’s game at Gallagher-Iba Arena might look like an easy win on paper, but road victories are always tough to come by in Stillwater. With bubble teams around the nation missing key opportunities to secure quality wins, simply taking care of business on the road improves Texas’ post-season outlook. Avoid getting tripped up this afternoon at Gallagher-Iba, and the Horns can start breathing a little easier when thinking about the NCAAs.

Freshman Brian Williams has exploded in conference play
(Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

Meet the Cowboys

For a full look at the Oklahoma State roster, check out LRT’s game preview from the first time these two teams met.

The first game

Texas overcame putrid shooting and a lingering injury to J’Covan Brown in a narrow 58-49 victory over Oklahoma State at the Erwin Center on January 7th. The Longhorns forced 21 Cowboy turnovers and kept a thin Oklahoma State rotation in constant foul trouble, grinding their way to victory.

In just his second career start, redshirt freshman Brian Williams led the Pokes in scoring, posting 16 points on the night. After struggling in his first career start just days earlier against Tech, Williams drained a pair of threes against the Longhorns. The team’s new point guard still battled turnover issues under the bright lights, but his scoring helped to solidify his role as the new starter.

For the Longhorns, guard Myck Kabongo and freshman forward Jonathan Holmes led the way. Kabongo was aggressive with the ball, penetrating the Oklahoma State defense to set his teammates up with good looks and earn himself trips to the line. Unfortunately, the Longhorns had a terrible night shooting the basketball, so Kabongo only actually earned six assists for the game. Meanwhile, Holmes chipped in a great performance on the offensive glass, turning four offensive boards into four easy buckets.

Since then…

Williams has started every conference game for the Pokes, with freshman guard Cezar Guerrero now relegated to the bench. Against Big 12 opponents, Williams has averaged more than 11 points in 35 minutes per game. Although he knocked down 2-of-5 from long range against Texas, he has not found much more success behind the arc, making just 5-of-36 in his other conference games.

Markel Brown has also made a big impact for OSU over the last few weeks. The sophomore was still recovering from an injury when Texas hosted the Cowboys in the first matchup, and he simply couldn’t get it going on the offensive end. Brown was just 1-of-6 from the floor against the Horns and scored only three points. Since then, he’s averaged 14.4 points per game for OSU, including a solid 19-point performance in a big home win over Iowa State.

Freshman Le’Bryan Nash has also found his stride in conference play, as his 14.8 scoring average in Big 12 games is tops among league freshman. Nash also sparked a furious second-half rally for Oklahoma State against Missouri, finishing with 27 points in the monumental upset. The Longhorns were able to hold him to just 12 points in their first meeting, but could have a much tougher time limiting his impact in this one.

Sharpshooter Keiton Page is on a hot streak
(Photo credit: L.G. Patterson/Associated Press)

Keys to the game

1) Get out to a fast start – The Longhorns have become a second-half team this season, often falling behind early before roaring back in the final 20 minutes. Gallagher-Iba is an arena that gets loud in a hurry, even when it’s only half full. If the Longhorns allow Oklahoma State to get any momentum early, it could be very hard to stage a comeback in this road environment.

The Gallagher-Iba aura is also why Texas needs to be sure to stop any runs, even if that means burning some timeouts early. Missouri can testify to how quickly Oklahoma State can get going with its crowd behind it, so the Longhorns must respond to those momentum swings, whether it’s with a fan-silencing basket or simply a 30-second timeout.

2) Attack inside – The Cowboys have a frontcourt that is just as thin as Texas’, if not more so. With just Michael Cobbins, Philip Jurick, and Euro-style big Marek Souček available, the Cowboys have little option but to go with a smaller lineup when their forwards get into foul trouble. Texas has done a great job being aggressive with the basketball in its last two games, earning a heap of points at the free-throw line. If the guards and wings can keep that up in this afternoon’s games, the whistles will force Coach Travis Ford to get creative with his lineup.

3) Limit the damage outside – Oklahoma State doesn’t have much in the way of outside threats, but senior Keiton Page is always dangerous from long range. Nothing fuels an upset more than hot three-point shooting, and Page comes into this one on a tear. Although his success rate for the season is just 34.6%, he’s made 9-of-20 from behind the arc in the team’s last two games. If Texas can keep Page and Brown from knocking down a handful of threes, the odds for an Oklahoma State upset take a serious hit.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 8:35PM

Texas Longhorns 58, Oklahoma State Cowboys 49

Heading into Saturday night’s match-up against Oklahoma State, the Texas Longhorns had never lost a home conference opener since the arrival of Rick Barnes on the 40 Acres, boasting a perfect 13-0 mark in those games. Of course, the Longhorns had also never struggled to a 30% shooting percentage in any of those games, either. Texas earned that ignominious distinction on Saturday night against Oklahoma State, but still managed to keep their perfect record intact, knocking off the Cowboys by a 58-49 count.

Texas missed its first eight shots from the field, and headed to the locker room having made just 21.2% of its shots. J’Covan Brown was a ghost offensively in the first half, as the ankle injury he suffered against Iowa State on Wednesday night was clearly bothering him. Despite that, the Longhorns were able to keep pace with the Cowboys thanks to excellent defensive rebounding and a stingy defense that constantly forced Oklahoma State into mistakes.

What looked good

Although Brown was hobbled by the ankle injury and finished with just six points, his performance was huge. In the first half, he came up with a basket-saving block after losing his man on a backdoor cut. Minutes later, he stripped the ball right out of Markel Brown‘s hands just after the Cowboy had secured a defensive rebound. Those kinds of heady, hustle plays defined Brown’s night.

Jonathan Holmes made his living on the offensive glass
(Photo credit: Michael Thomas/Associated Press)

Still noticeably limping throughout the game, Brown didn’t force anything. He attempted just five shots from the field, and all but one were good looks. His first bucket of the game didn’t come until 31 minutes into it, but it was a clutch three that put the Longhorns ahead with 8:41 to play. J’Covan found space on the wings in transition and spotted up for a nice feed by Myck Kabongo.

Jaylen Bond also made a big difference without piling up the points. He intercepted two Oklahoma State passes, and swiped another ball to notch a career-high with three steals. As always, he was tenacious on the glass, leading the Longhorns with nine rebounds in his 22 minutes. His defensive rebounding mark for the season climbed to 21.6%, putting him just outside the top 100 nationally.

Another freshman who worked hard on the glass was Jonathan Holmes, who grabbed only four rebounds off of the bench, but turned every single one of them into points. All of his boards came on the offensive glass, and he went up strong after each one, logging two buckets and drawing two fouls. All told, those four offensive rebounds turned into seven key points for the Longhorns.

The frontcourt didn’t just shine on the glass, as Alexis Wangmene was pretty much the only Longhorn who could make a shot in the early going. He knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line, and had an excellent run in transition for an old-fashioned three-point play. Although the senior was limited to just 14 minutes, his early work on the offensive end kept the Longhorns from getting into a deep hole in the first half.

The other thing that kept Texas from getting too far behind was stifling defense that forced 21 Oklahoma State turnovers. The Cowboys coughed it up on 31.8% of their possessions, by far their worst performance of the season. Texas forced travels, drew charges, and frequently jumped the passing lanes, constantly frustrating the visiting Pokes.

The Longhorns also kept Oklahoma State from getting too many offensive rebounds, allowing the Cowboys to reclaim just 28.1% of their shots. The one troubling thing in this department was that when the Horns did give up the board, it often led to very easy putbacks or nasty dunks by Michael Cobbins.

The big story of the game, however, was the solid showing by Kabongo. The freshman has certainly had his growing pains this season, and the last few weeks have been especially hard. Against the Cowboys, he made some great passes and finished with six assists against just one turnover. Had the Longhorns actually been knocking down shots, Kabongo likely would have even cracked double-digits in assists.

Myck Kabongo had a breakthrough game
(Photo credit: Michael Thomas/Associated Press)

Where he did crack that double-digit barrier was points, as Kabongo’s aggressive play led to twelve trips to the line and a final total of 15 points. Myck has had trouble attacking inside in recent games, so it was certainly a confidence-booster for him to find success against Oklahoma State. There’s no doubt that these next three opponents will make things a little tougher for the freshman guard, but last night was a long-awaited step in the right direction.

What needed work

The obvious problem for Texas on Saturday night was an inability to knock down shots. The good thing is that the Longhorns were actually getting pretty good looks, even without a healthy Brown available to create with penetration. On a typical night, many of those shots would go down for Texas, so it was huge for the Longhorns to grind out a victory despite the ice-cold shooting.

Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis each had a second-consecutive rough outing, combining to go just 6-for-26 from the field. Against Iowa State, the pair was 4-of-19, giving them a field goal percentage of only 22.2% in their last two games. With Brown still injured and his effectiveness in question for Wednesday night’s game, the Longhorns desperately need these two freshmen to bounce back quickly.

Texas also left quite a few points at the free throw line, something which fortunately did not come back to haunt them in a close game. The Longhorns made just 65.5% of their free throws, well off the team’s season average of 71.5%. Bond missed both of his free throws, while Kabongo managed to sink just 67% of his attempts at the line. The Horns also lost a potential point when one of Wangmene’s foul shots was taken away thanks to a lane violation by Brown.

All things considered, the Longhorns were fortunate to earn a win. On a night where the team would shoot just 30% and get only six points and 26 minutes from J’Covan Brown, a victory would seem like a pipe dream. But the resolve shown by this young team — even against a scuttling Oklahoma State squad — is a great building block for the future. The Longhorns defended well, worked hard on the glass, and finally proved to themselves that they could win when things got tough.

Up next: vs. Texas A&M (9-5 overall, 0-2 Big 12); Wednesday, 8 P.M. CT

Posted by Ryan Clark at 3:09PM

Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-6 overall, 1-0 Big 12) at Texas Longhorns (10-4, 0-1)
Frank Erwin Center | Austin, TX | Tip: 6 P.M. CT | TV: Longhorn Network
LRT Consecutive Game #201

The NCAA tournament hopes of the Texas Longhorns took a hit on Wednesday night, as the young team let the opportunity for a precious road win slip away in Ames, Iowa. Predicted by many national pundits to be a bubble team, the Longhorns will need every win that they can get in Big 12 play, making the loss to Iowa State even more damaging. This evening, the team is back in action against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, another team that provides a ripe target for one of those important league victories.

Keiton Page is the senior leader for OSU
(Photo credit: Nate Billings/The Oklahoman

By the numbers

Oklahoma State has played a challenging non-conference slate, but hasn’t fared well against the tougher teams on the schedule. The Cowboys are just 1-6 against opponents ranked in the Top 100 of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. Of their other seven wins this year, one came against Langston University of the NAIA, and the remainder came against teams with an average KenPom ranking of 213.

The Cowboys haven’t been particularly efficient on offense, with their adjusted mark of 1.018 points per possession checking in just above the national median. What has kept Oklahoma State competitive is a solid defense, as opponents are scoring just 0.925 points per possession against the Pokes.

It should be noted that Oklahoma State’s solid defensive numbers are thanks in large part to dominating the worst teams on their schedule. In their seven wins, the Cowboys are limiting opponents to just 0.851 points per possession. In those six losses against Top 100 competition, their defense concedes 1.072 PPP. With the Texas offense checking in near the top of the efficiency rankings, it’s likely that they will put a performance similar to Oklahoma State’s other quality opponents.

With the ball, Oklahoma State is having a tougher time. As mentioned above, their overall efficiency numbers aren’t too far above the national median. Their shooting percentage and offensive rebounding numbers both put them in the bottom 100 of D-I hoops, but their lack of turnovers keeps the offense from really struggling. The Pokes have an eFG of just 45.7%, and reclaim only 27.1% of their rebounds. For a Texas team that has had issues defending the perimeter and cleaning the defensive glass, these are great numbers to see on the scouting report.

Meet the Cowboys

There was promise and hope in Stillwater during the offseason, as the arrival of highly-touted freshman Le’Bryan Nash (No. 2) made it appear that the Pokes could be a dark-horse contender in a wide-open Big 12. Instead, the team has been ravaged by injuries and departures, leaving head coach Travis Ford with a short, inexperienced bench.

In the last few weeks, both Reger Dowell and Fred Gulley announced their intentions to transfer, leaving Coach Ford without a single member of his 2009 recruiting class. Earlier this week, Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports wrote an excellent breakdown of Ford’s terrible track record of losing recruits, both at Oklahoma State and UMass.

In addition to all of the departures, Ford was also dealt a blow when Jean-Paul Olukemi tore his ACL in the final non-conference game against Virginia Tech. Not surprisingly, that severe of an injury has ended his season. The Pokes are also without nasty big man Darrell Williams, who has remained on the roster since rape charges were filed against him last season. His status with the team won’t be reviewed until the completion of his trial, which was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, but has been pushed back until May.

All told, that leaves the Cowboys with just an eight-man rotation, including five freshmen. Senior Keiton Page (No. 12) is the most experienced player left on the roster, and his recent hot streak has him leading the team with 14.5 points per game. He’s always been known as a three-point threat, but has had to develop more of a driving game during these last two seasons thanks to the team’s point guard issues. Without a true facilitator, Page could no longer camp out on the perimeter and play as simply a spot-up shooter.

Joining Page in the backcourt is redshirt freshman Brian Williams (No. 4). With Gulley and Dowell putting Stillwater in the rearview mirror, Williams earned his first career start against Texas Tech on Wednesday night. He struggled from the floor in his 26 minutes of action, knocking down just one of his six attempts.

Freshman Le’Bryan Nash is tough to stop
(Photo credit: Matt Strasen/Associated Press

On the wing, freshman Nash was expected to be a savior at Gallagher-Iba, but has yet to live up to expectations so far. At 6’7″, 230 pounds, Nash has the body to compete down low, but has the handles and jumper to stretch the floor and play outside. He’s second on the team with 12.4 points per game, but he’ll have to have a big performance tonight if Oklahoma State hopes to pull off the road win.

In the middle, junior transfer Philip Jurick (No. 44) is the second oldest player on the team. A four-star recruit out of Chattanooga, he originally committed to play for the Volunteers, but never played a single minute in Knoxville. He transferred to play junior college ball at Chattanooga State before ending up in Stillwater as the team’s center.

Jurick averages just over 18 minutes per game, but is still tops on the team with an average of six rebounds. The 6’11” big man is also a big part of the team’s defensive success, as his block percentage of 13.3% is 11th-best in the nation.

The team’s fifth starter will likely be Michael Cobbins (No. 20), a 6’8″ redshirt freshman who also is a shot-blocking threat. He was a highly-regarded recruit in high school, but a nasty knee injury ruined his senior year and necessitated last season’s redshirt.

Coming off the bench, freshman point guard Cezar Guerrero (No. 1)is fifth on the team in scoring with 7.5 points per game. Besides Page, he’s the team’s biggest threat from long range, where he’s launched nearly half of his attempts this year. He’s also incredibly quick with the ball, but has played a bit out of control so far this season. Thanks to the backcourt attrition, Guerrero will have to grow up quickly in Big 12 play.

Sophomore guard Markel Brown (No. 22) has started 11 of the team’s 14 games, but an injury forced him to be the sixth man in Wednesday’s win over Texas Tech. Brown, a former high school state champion in Louisiana, provides Oklahoma State with sound perimeter defense and valuable rebounding from the wings. With the team reeling and full of freshmen, the sophomore will have to step up as a leader down the stretch.

The only other Cowboy at Coach Ford’s disposal is Marek Souček, a Czech 7-footer who had made only three appearances for a total of six minutes during the team’s first 13 games. With Olukemi sidelined for the year, Souček was called upon for 15 minutes in the win over Tech, and responded well. As expected, he’s a true Euro-style big who is more comfortable on the perimeter and midrange than banging against big bodies in the paint.

Keys to the game

1) Establish the inside presence – With only Jurick and Souček providing size inside, the Longhorns need to get Clint Chapman started early, as they did against Iowa State. Establishing that inside presence also includes dominating the glass, something that the Longhorns should be able to do against a poor-rebounding Cowboy team. Even if J’Covan Brown is unable to play or is ineffective thanks to his injury, the Longhorns should be fine if they can play well inside.

2) Control the basketball – In three of the team’s last four games, the Longhorns have coughed it up on more than 22% of their possessions. Oklahoma State has not forced an inordinate number of turnovers this year, but Texas cannot afford to make unforced errors that give the Cowboys extra possessions.

3) Chase Page off the perimeter – Page is averaging 23.7 points over his last three games, including a solid 3-of-5 performance behind the arc against Tech on Wednesday night. The senior guard is always dangerous spotting up outside, so the Longhorns must make him put the ball on the floor. Page is much more effective on the quick catch-and-shoot, and tends to struggle when having to create his own shots.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 1:30PM

#2/3 Texas Longhorns 73, Oklahoma State Cowboys 55

Gary Johnson led Texas with a double-double
(Photo credit: Michael Thomas/Associated Press)

“Our biggest concern is keeping our foot on the pedal,” senior Gary Johnson told reporters last night. “We haven’t been in a situation where we’ve been behind. We don’t want to start it now.”

The Longhorns didn’t start it on Wednesday night, as they lambasted Oklahoma State, 73-55, in the sixth-straight game that Texas led wire-to-wire. Although Oklahoma State controlled the tip, the Texas defense forced a miss from Markel Brown and the Longhorns took an early 2-0 lead just 31 seconds into the game. After the win, Texas’ impressive streak of never trailing has been extended to more than 264 minutes.

The 18-point victory also marked the 10th time in Texas’ 11 conference wins that the Horns have defeated their opponents by double-digits. With that 11th conference win coming by nine points over Baylor, Texas’ average margin of victory in their 11 conference games is 17.3 points.

The Longhorns also set a school record by winning their 11th consecutive Big 12 game, and remained in pursuit of the best conference start in school history. The 1962-63 Texas team ran out to a 13-0 mark in Southwest Conference play before losing their final league game of the season. If the Longhorns can get past Nebraska on the road on Saturday, they should have no problem tying that mark against Iowa State next Tuesday.

Finally, the win sealed a first-round bye for the Longhorns in next month’s Big 12 tournament. With Missouri hosting Baylor next Wednesday, one of those teams is guaranteed to finish with at least six conference losses. That leaves only Kansas, Texas A&M, and the winner of that Baylor/Mizzou tilt as teams that could potentially finish with a record equal to or better than 11-5. At this point, Texas would have to lose all of its remaining games to tie with an 11-5 team.

What looked good

Texas jumped out to an early lead by attacking the Cowboys inside. They racked up fouls on the OSU big men, and the added attention inside meant that the Longhorn shooters were being left wide open open the perimeter. The inside-out attack allowed Texas to go 5-for-11 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, and the Longhorns took an 11-point lead to the locker room.

In the second half, Gary Johnson and Cory Joseph fueled a run that put Texas up by 21 points. Johnson knocked down a jumper, posted up for a 3-point play, and tipped in another bucket before Joseph added a three-pointer and a breakaway layup on his own steal.

Jordan Hamilton was unstoppable in the first half
(Photo credit: Lary Kolvoord/American-Statesman)

Johnson was nearly flawless in the game, going 7-of-8 from the field. He finished the night with 17 points, and added 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Joseph, meanwhile, finished with 11 points despite shooting just 30.7%. The rest of the starting five also found it easy to score, with Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton combining for 29 points and 11 rebounds.

The easy win also allowed the starters to get some much-needed rest. Besides Joseph’s 30 minutes on the court, no other starter had to play more than 28 minutes. Jai Lucas and J’Covan Brown picked up much of the slack, combining for 44 minutes off the bench. In conference play, the two guards were averaging just 28 minutes per game. If Lucas can continue to eat up minutes off the bench as the regular season winds down, that added rest for the starters could be huge when the schedule becomes much more compact in March.

The Texas defense also continued to impress, holding the Cowboys to only 0.792 points per possession, well off their season average of 1.06 per trip. All season long, the Horns have utilized strong defensive rebounding to limit opponents to one-shot possessions. While Texas continued that trend against OSU, holding the Pokes to a 27.6% mark on the offensive glass, the most impressive stat was the 24.5% turnover rate Texas forced. The Longhorns are not a team that causes many miscues, but they made the Cowboys look utterly lost as they coughed it up 12 times in the first half.

Off the bench, Matt Hill had a good effort, grabbing five boards in his 18 minutes on the floor. He also added three points on a hook shot and a free throw. While neither Hill or Alexis Wangmene will be on any All-American teams any time soon, the Longhorns are benefiting from the fact that in nearly every game, they are getting a solid bench effort from one of their two backup big men.

What needed work

While Hill had a solid game off the bench, Alexis Wangmene unfortunately struggled. He had issues handling passes inside, was called for a travel, and picked up four fouls in just 11 minutes of play. Wangmene did have a nice block, though. Fortunately, his struggles in this one made very little difference in the outcome.

As always, free throws were a major issue for the Longhorns. As a team, they shot just 57.1% from the line, but once again a majority of the blame fell upon freshman Tristan Thompson. The big man went to the line 13 times and made just six of his attempts, while the rest of the team combined to go 10-of-15. At some point, Texas is going to be in a close game. Is there anyone that Rick Barnes can rely upon to make clutch free throws to ice it?

Next up: at Nebraska (17-8 overall, 5-6 Big 12)

Posted by Ryan Clark at 5:40PM

Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-8 overall, 4-6 Big 12) at #2/3 Texas Longhorns (22-3, 10-0)
Frank Erwin Center | Austin, TX | Tip: 8 P.M. CT | TV: ESPN2

The Longhorns have a lot to celebrate this year
(Photo credit: Michael Thomas/Associated Press)

With Kansas tripping up on the road against Kansas State on Monday night, an outright Big 12 title is possibly just weeks away for the Texas Longhorns. Only six opponents remain on the schedule for Texas, who can now lose one of those games and still lay sole claim to the conference crown. The quest for that championship continues tonight, as the Longhorns host a struggling Oklahoma State squad who would love nothing more than to spoil those dreams.

If you had to rank the remaining six games in order of difficulty, tonight’s would definitely qualify as one of the “easier” ones left. Oklahoma State is near the bottom of the league standings, is dealing with off-the-court drama, and already lost by double-digits to Texas on their own court last month. With tougher tests awaiting in the form of road trips to Baylor, Colorado, and Nebraska, plus a home date against a salty Kansas State squad, tonight’s game is one that the Longhorns simply cannot afford to overlook.

The first meeting

For twenty minutes, the first match-up between Oklahoma State and Texas was a battle. The Cowboys even led with just over four minutes to go in the first half, but fell victim to a 14-0 run by the Longhorns that put the visitors up for good. Texas employed its trademark stiff defense in Stillwater, shutting out sharpshooter Keiton Page while holding OSU to a season low in points and field-goal percentage.

Dogus Balbay had a big night, scoring 10 points to go with five boards, four assists, and a pair of steals. Jordan Hamilton paced the Horns with a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Tristan Thompson led the Texas scorers with fourteen. The freshman struggled early in the game, but scored 11 consecutive points during one second-half stretch.

Since then…

Since the last meeting, the Longhorns have never trailed in a game. A Balbay free throw tied the Longhorns and Cowboys at 25 each in the first game, and Texas has led or been even with every opponent in the 224 minutes of basketball since then. That’s an unbelievable stretch of more than five and a half games in which the Longhorns have dominated their opponents.

Oklahoma State will be without Darrell Williams tonight
(Photo credit: James Schammerhorn/Associated Press)

For the Cowboys, things have gone downhill since the loss in Stillwater. OSU has managed to split the four games they’ve played since facing Texas, but they suffered a huge blow last week when big man Darrell Williams was charged with four felonies, including three counts of rape. He has been suspended indefinitely by Coach Travis Ford, and is in a holding pattern at least until his next day in court, which isn’t until March 7th. Prior to the suspension, Williams was averaging 7.1 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Cowboys.

In their first game without the big man, Oklahoma State lost to Nebraska in Lincoln, 65-54. The Cowboys were forced to rely more on Matt Pilgrim and Roger Franklin, who combined for just four points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes on the floor. Marshall Moses tried to carry the team with his 18-point, six-rebound effort, but the Huskers were still able to dominate OSU on the boards and in the paint.

Meet the Cowboys

For an in-depth look at the entire Oklahoma State roster, please read our preview from the first game between these two teams.

Keys to the game

In Stillwater, the Longhorns had major issues with ball handling in the early going. Fortunately, many of those miscues were unforced errors, and not a result of Oklahoma State’s pressure. That means it should be easy for Texas to value the basketball against the Cowboys this time around. The Horns cruised to a 15-point win in Stillwater despite a rash of turnovers, so if they are able to erase those mistakes tonight, it should be an absolute beating.

Texas also will want to react quicker to double teams. The Longhorns had quite a few possessions against Oklahoma State in their first meeting where the Texas bigs failed to recognize an approaching double or triple-team on the blocks. If the Longhorns can make quick passes against that pressure tonight, they are going to find many more open looks and should cruise to an easy home win.

With Williams out of the lineup, Texas also needs to exploit their advantage on the glass. A big reason why the Longhorns rank No. 1 nationally in defensive efficiency is a strong presence on the boards that limits opponents to numerous one-shot possessions. Without Williams, it will be even harder for the Cowboys to earn offensive boards and second-chance points. If Texas dominates this facet of the game as easily as they should, this game could become very lopsided in a hurry.

Finally, the Longhorns need to keep OSU out of the paint early. In the first match-up, the Cowboys didn’t attack inside and didn’t earn trips to the line, instead relying on mid-range and outside jumpers, many of them contested. Look for OSU to make adjustments and make a concerted effort to score early with Moses and Pilgrim inside. If Texas can once again establish dominance by making stops on the first few possessions, it’s likely the Pokes will take the path of least resistance and try to beat the Horns with jumpers.

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