Last Saturday, Oklahoma State got run out of their own building by West Virginia. Oklahoma State fans shouldn’t be disheartened by this though. Today, Brad Underwood is looking to take his team into Austin and get not only his first Big 12 conference win, but his 100th career win when the Cowboys take on the Texas Longhorns.
Here’s the quick hits for today’s matchup with the Texas Longhorns.
Cowboys (10-3, 0-1 Big 12) vs. Longhorns (6-7, 0-1 Big 12)
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, Texas
TV: Longhorn Network
Stream: WatchESPN.com (requires provider login)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Texas is not off to as hot of a start as they were anticipated to in the preseason when they were predicted to finish third in the conference. I know they have only played one conference game, and it looks like the Big 12 is all up in the air, but they haven’t exactly gotten off to the best start in the league.
In fact, they are quite a confusing team thus far. The Longhorns are 6-7, and have lost to teams such as UT Arlington and Kent State. Their best win is against Alabama. But they have two losses to Kansas State and Michigan - ranked 31st and 37th by KenPom respectively - by three points each game. They seem to be playing the tough teams well, but not quite enough, but then get embarrassed by the teams they should beat. I mean, Kent State? KenPom has them ranked 145th.
Last season, the ‘Horns finished the season 20-13 while owning an 11-7 record in conference play. They finished fourth in the Big 12, and received a bid to the Big Dance, where this happened in their first round matchup.
Players to Watch:
Texas has the fifth best recruiting class this year. So far, Jarrett Allen has been the biggest contributor to the team, averaging 10.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game in almost 29 minutes. He is also shooting 58.4% from the field in his freshman campaign.
Losing Isaiah Thomas hurt the Horns, but they have made up for it with Tevin Mack. The sophomore guard stepped into the starting point guard role and thus far in the season, he is the leading scorer (14.3 ppg), third highest rebounder (4.4 rpg), and best 3-point shooter on the team (38%).
Three Big Things
1. Don’t let them beat you on the inside.
Texas is not a very good 3 point shooting team. They are only shooting 28.8% as an entire team. That could work out to the Pokes’ advantage, if they can control the floor inside the arc, especially inside the paint, the Longhorns will hopefully start falling behind, and feel pressured to chuck up more shots from deep, which they don’t hit very many of - only 77 of their 267 attempts this season.
2. Get after the loose balls.
Following their loss to WVU, Coach Underwood was not happy with how his team dealt with loose balls and hustle plays against the Mountaineers.
We had a swing of five or six possessions where there were loose balls - we've gotten those all year, but they beat us to everything today. Those became points for them and that's something you can't do in a conference or any game for that matter...You've got to fight for everything. You can't assume the ball is going to go out of bounds and let them go and get it - we saw that happen tonight. Those are the things that make the difference. You have to do those things when it's hard, not when it's easy. You have to do it when it's hard and things aren't going your way...That's when you have to fight and you have to be dialed in and that's what I want this to mean going forward. The X's and O's will get cleaned up and be different the next time we play, but the grit, fight and toughness - we have a long way to go there.
Look for the Cowboys to get after the ball and not just sit back and let it go. I may not have known Brad Underwood very long, but from what I have gathered, if he doesn’t like something, it is going to be fixed. Especially something as easy to fix as this.
3. Get some momentum.
As I said earlier, Texas does not appear to be the team that they were projected to be in the preseason. That being said, you can’t go out and expect them to just roll over and hand the Cowboys the win. The Pokes need to come out Pistols Firing and jump all over the Horns. Just because they aren’t 11-1 or 10-2 doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of beating us. If the Cowboys can come out and dominate like they did at Wichita State, that would be a HUGE momentum and morale boost for them as they prepare for their matchup with the #3 Baylor Bears on Saturday. Beating Texas is always a great time. Beating them in Austin? Even better. As a former basketball player, it was always a great feeling going on the road and beating a team so badly that their arena is silent, except for an occasional yell. That’s what you want as a player on the road. A silent arena. If Underwood and Co. can go out, dismantle Texas, and get Underwood’s first Big 12 win and his 100th career win, it should be a huge boost to the program.