Oklahoma State (16-2, 2-1) outlasted the Horns (13-4, 3-1) in an epic, triple-overtime thriller, 105-103. There were so many fantastic plays by both teams that it would be impossible to recap them all.
Basically this was an incredibly even game in which the team with the ball last won. There were 15 ties and 16 lead changes in 55 minutes of action. Neither team led by more than seven points the entire game.
Mario Boggan (37 points, 20 rebounds) and JamesOn Curry (28 points, 9 rebounds) absolutely killed the Horns. Together they accounted for 62% of the Cowboys' total scoring. No one came up bigger than Boggan. His three pointer with just five seconds left in triple OT proved to be the difference. The Cowboys also got 16 points by Terrel Harris and 11 points from Byron Eaton.
Oklahoma State is a talented, poised, and experienced team. I firmly believe their 30 point loss at Kansas last week will look more and more like an anomaly as the season progresses. The Cowboys can score inside and out and have two potential 1st team All Big 12 players. They shoot a high percentage, are physical on both ends, and rebound the ball well. Their guard play is at times shaky but will improve. Losing to OSU is far from the end of the world or a bad loss, but man it would have been great to leave Gallagher-Iba with a victory.
The Horns were led by another monster performance from Kevin Durant (37 points, 12 rebounds). Even with his outside jumper not falling, Durant found ways to score. KD came up with the huge putback and the foul shot at the end of triple OT. His three point play would have proved to be the difference if it wasn't for the heroics of Boggan. Durant did force some three pointers though and must recognize when he has the advantage with the dribble. That is nitpicking though. He is an absolute beast and still, in my opinion, the best player in the country. Without Durant, Texas is not even in this game. KD also had four blocks, two assists, and a steal to go with his double-double in 52 minutes of action.
Other than six turnovers, DJ Augustin was again fantastic. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, and two steals in 50 minutes. Augustin did a nice job in the first half pushing the tempo. His instincts of when to push and when to pull back in transition and when to dish and when to finish at the rim in the half court continue to impress. Even after just 17 games, Augustin has the game of senior point guard.
Augustin also played smartly with four fouls for some of the second half and all three overtime periods. It is painfully obvious how much our offense bogs down when he is on the bench. DJ did a great job staying eligible and keeping us in the game. Since the LSU game, DJ has been almost as unstoppable with a single defender as Durant.
Lost in all the craziness of the overtime periods was a solid, gritty performance by Damion James. James battled hard all night and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. Damion was really undersized against Boggan but he more than held his own. Boggan really hurt the Horns on the offensive glass after James departed.
Justin Mason contributed a quiet 18 points and four rebounds in 52 minutes. Mason did come up huge with his three pointers late, nailing three of his five attempts.
The only starter not to play solidly was AJ Abrams. Abrams was ice cold the entire night. He made just 2/14 from the floor, including just 2/8 from behind the arc. Lost on the enormous putback by Durant in the closing seconds was the airball by AJ from about six feet. Abrams also failed to get a shot off in the final two seconds by double clutching on a three and eventually traveling.
Abrams looked lost against the bigger Cowboy defenders on both ends. He struggled to get good looks on offense and wasn't able to cut off dribble penetration on defense. Abrams also left his man countless times attempting to steal the ball. This is a great play when you make it. He rarely did and left the Horns playing defense a man down as he hustled to get back into position. His defense must improve if this team is to reach its full potential.
The game was played at a very quick pace in the first half. Augustin was making a concerted effort to push the ball on turnovers and even after made Cowboy baskets. As a result, Barnes tried to keep his starters fresh by substituting Connor Atchley, JD Lewis, Matt Hill, and Craig Winder in for time in the first half.
Matt Hill played three forgettable minutes. Winder played just one minute but did force a turnover on a five-second call. That means the Horns really played just seven guys. Atchley had some nice moments on the glass and with a clutch three pointer late in the game. He contributed six points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes. Horns' fans should be please with his effort and his production.
Lewis is another story. Unfortunately, JD simply does not have the skills to play at this level, but he is really our only perimeter bench player. Lewis played seven minutes missing one three pointer, grabbing no rebounds, committing one foul, and turning the ball over twice. Horns' fans cannot be pleased with his production.
Areas to Improve
Our bench is not the reason we lost this one. Ultimately, OSU won the game more than we lost it. They made the last clutch play in a series of great efforts by both teams.
The Horns did struggle in a few areas. The slightest improvement in any probably would have led to victory. The Horns turned the ball over 20 times, were outrebounded 54-49, and allowed the Cowboys to shoot 55% in the first half and 48% for the game.
Our turnovers led to 19 Oklahoma State points and 20 OSU offensive rebounds led to 20 second chance points. We cannot allow opponents to shoot close to 50%. Coach Barnes likes to hold opponents under 40%. This is an amazing offensive team, better than almost any Barnes has had at Texas, but we are also one of the worst defensive clubs he has had in nine seasons. We give up too many easy looks at the basket and simply don't have the personnel to defend the post well. OSU outscored us 46-38 in the paint.
This was an absolutely heartbreaking loss for the Horns. Both teams played their guts out for 55 minutes and as cliché as it sounds, it is a shame that either team had to lose.
Unfortunately, we end up with a L on our resume. The work continues though. Texas will attempt to fly back to Austin tonight but likely will be unsuccessful making the all the way. Therefore, the Horns won't make it back home until Wednesday. They are supposed to travel to Philly on Thursday for their Saturday game with Villanova.
As difficult as it is, the Horns must bounce back quickly. Four players played over 50 minutes against the Cowboys. Texas will not be any deeper on Saturday afternoon and our starters will be playing on extremely tired legs. Saturday will be gut check time. The Horns can't afford to let OSU beat them twice.
Next Game: at Villanova Saturday 12:30 PM (CBS)