#14 Texas (23-8, 12-4) meets crowd favorite Oklahoma State (22-11, 6-10) this afternoon at 3:20 PM. The semifinal match-up will either be televised by ESPN2 or ESPN+ depending on your area. Yesterday, the Longhorns completed the biggest comeback in the Rick Barnes era defeating Baylor, 74-69, and the Cowboys won their second game in as many days defeating Texas A&M for the first time this season, 57-56. Mario Boggan scored the game-winning bucket on turn around jumper near the lane with about ten seconds left, and the Cowboys survived three different Aggies jump shots in the closing seconds.
There is no reason to review all things OSU, so let's just go to some Keys to the Game:
Keep Crowd Quiet Texas is not going to be able to fall behind but 20 points to Oklahoma State and expect to come back. The Longhorns need a much quicker start this afternoon. Against Baylor, after missing their first few shots, they appeared to get in a hurry on offense. Texas wasn't taking good shots, wasn't rebounding at all on the offensive end, and wasn't cutting off the Baylor transition game. Today, Rick Barnes must use his timeouts wisely as the pro-OSU crowd will really get into this one if the Cowboys start rolling.
Limit Boggan and Curry This was a key in both our previous meetings and remains one today. There is no way that Byron Eaton, Terrel Harris, Marcus Dove, and Obi Mounelo can score enough to beat the Horns. AJ Abrams and Craig Winder need to harass JamesOn Curry on the catch, limit his open looks, and keep in out of the lane. Damion James and Connor Atchley and maybe even Dexter Pittman need to keep a body on Mario Boggan all game, keep him out of the paint, and stay out of foul trouble themselves.
Get Durant Going Early Marcus Dove will draw the defensive assignment on Durant for the third time this season. KD had a monster game in Stillwater that was aided by Dove fouling out. Durant also had another double-double in Austin in a game that was over very, very quickly. Durant really found his rhthym in the second half last night. If his confidence and hot shooting from the second half last night can carry over to this afternoon's game, it will be a long one for the Cowboys.
The Longhorns may be in a much better spot as far as NCAA seeding than we think. There are still about ten top-notch teams but a few #3 seeds and all the #4 seeds remain up for grabs. Washington State, Maryland, Southern Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, and Virginia have all been eliminated from their conference tournaments earlier than they would have liked. A win this afternoon would likely lock up at least a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Neither team is deep but OSU has already played two games and one came against the physical Aggies. Texas should be able to pressure Curry and Eaton into turnovers; Augustin should be able to get into the lane and rebound from a less than stellar performance; and the Longhorns should be able to stay close enough on the boards to win this one. Texas marches on, 74-72.