Tonight: 8:00 pm
Austin, Texas - Erwin Center (16,734)
ESPN2 | ESPN3
Well... um... things are not looking too promising in this one... but the K-State faithful thought the same thing at 8:00 on Monday night, right? Ugh... are we looking to a K-State upset as inspiration now? Probably not... scratch that comment. Instead let's just agree that upsets happen, okay?
Last time we saw the Longhorns we were all at GIA on Jan 26th, and a lot of bad stuff happened on the white maple. The Texas defense was stifling, the Pokes shots weren't falling (shocker), and 37-year-old Texas Senior Dogus Balbay turned into Tony Parker for the night. The game was once again decided, in what is becoming as alarming as it is confusing of a trend, in the few minutes surrounding halftime. In this specific game, if you take out the last 1:38 of the first half, and the first 2:34 of the 2nd half, the score of the balance of that game was 48-46 in the Longhorns favor. Unfortunately, the teams did have to play those four minutes and twelve seconds (probably because of a Big 12 referee bias), and Texas outscored the Cowboys 13-0 in that span.
As for the rest of the game... this happened:
So what do the Cowboys need to do to have a chance at a different result this time around? Well, as we discussed in the preview of the first meeting with the Longhorns, everyone is going to have to contribute offensively if there is to be any chance of breaking 60 points. And this really isn't a "matchup with Texas" thing, this is going to be a key in every game moving forward. The Oklahoma State defense has the ability to somewhat contain the Longhorns as evidenced by it taking a freak game from Balbay to get Texas over 60 points in Stillwater. The key is going to be matching the defensive effort of the first game and hope the Longhorns are a little cold from three, while on the offensive end getting good ball movement, playing at a fast tempo, getting out in transition, and winning the Free Throw battle (never easy on the road). This is a game where I would like to see Ray Penn mirror his effort of the Mizzou game (albeit against a whole different animal) and push the ball in repeated attempts to catch the Texas defense out of position.
KenPom predicts an outcome of Oklahoma State 55, Texas 73, and gives the Pokes a 4% chance of winning this game. That feels about right.
The thing is... this Cowboy season has reached the point where we need a game like this. The two that follow this one are A&M and at Kansas, so the road doesn't get any easier, and if the Pokes are going to hold onto any hope of a tourney bid, they need to win some road games, and probably win a big one (think the K-State win last season). Without any true road credibility, even an eight win Cowboy team is an outside shot of getting a bid. The door is closing and we are running out of season, so hopefully these Pokes have some kind of a burst left in them.
And I know this is a somewhat naive way to look at things, but I always believe in the Cowboys the most when they are down and need a win like this. This runs counter to all the times they have metaphorically kicked me in the balls, but games like this are an opportunity for the team to step up and show the nation what they can do, and I still think they are capable of doing this. We are still waiting on that magical game when JPO and Brown are driving at will, opening the paint for Moses, and drawing defenders off the perimeter leaving Page open for threes. Perhaps this is that game?
An alternate reason for predicting a Cowboy win is that Texas is terrified of that #1 ranking... maybe they will be cool and just throw one to keep themselves in that #5 territory while throwing us a bone in the process. Come on Texas, we've done so much for you (probably not true), return the favor already.