Texas Longhorns @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Saturday, Feb 28, 2009, 5:00 PM CST
Gallagher-Iba Arena * Stillwater, OK
Radio: 98.1 FM / 1300 AM (Austin)
Las Vegas Line: OSU -1.5
KenPom Data Prediction: OSU, 77-75
TexasSports.com / Barking Carnival
Statesman.com on Gary Johnson's Return
First Season Meeting: Texas W, 99-74
Preview / Review
|Oklahoma State||Texas||Oklahoma State||Texas|
|Overall Record||18-9||18-8||Offensive Efficiency (Rank)||116.2 (13)||111.3 (45)|
||Defensive Efficiency (Rank)||97.9 (109)||92.0 (30)|
||Strength of Schedule Rank||#46||#32|
|Away / Neutral Record||4-5 / 2-2
||4-4 / 3-2||Quality Wins (KenPom Top 50)
|Record Last 5 and 10 Games||4-1 / 6-4
||4-1 / 6-4||Losses||
at Texas A&M
Stakes and Keys to the Game after the jump.
Unlike the mid-week game with Texas Tech, both teams have a lot to play for this afternoon. Oklahoma State is still in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid but has work to do. The Cowboys are 7-6 in conference and have won four straight, however, they are sorely lacking a signature win. A win today over the ‘Horns would position OSU to capture a fifth bid from the Big XII should they win either of their last two games (Kansas State, at OU). If OSU falters at home, they would probably have to win both of next week’s games to warrant legitimate consideration for the Committee.
For Texas, an NCAA tournament bid is all but secured with a win in any of the Longhorns last three games. Why not lock up that bid today? The Longhorns are not just playing for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they are also still chasing a top four finish and a first round bye in the Big XII tournament as well as trying to avoid the 7-10 seed range in the NCAAs. A win for Texas would put the ‘Horns in fantastic position to finish alone in fourth in the conference. Kansas State is currently 7-6 with Nebraska, at OSU, and Colorado remaining. They will almost certainly get two of those, thus forcing Texas to get to 10 conference wins to avoid a losing a tiebreaker with the Wildcats.
The Cowboys are an elite (13th best in the country) offensive team. They prefer to play at an up-tempo pace, are excellent shooters from both inside and outside the arc, and protect the ball extremely well. Travis Ford plays mostly with three guards and sometimes even four guards. The OSU lineup causes fits for opposing defenses and also allows them to exploit quickness advantages on the offensive end. The only hole in the OSU offense is on the offensive glass where they are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country. If Texas brings the right energy and chases down long rebounds, then second chance points shouldn’t be a factor.
Like Texas, Oklahoma State is a poorer defensive team now then their season-long defensive efficiency numbers suggest. The Cowboys have held their opponents under a point per possession just twice in conference play—on January 10th vs. Texas A&M and earlier this week at Colorado. In their other eleven conference games, Oklahoma State has been below average to downright poor defensively. Texas fans saw the Cowboys’ worst defensive performance of the season a few weeks ago in Austin. The Longhorns torched OSU for 99 points and an easy 25 point victory. I have no illusions of blowing out OSU in Stillwater, though. OSU is much tougher at home and as mentioned above is playing for their NCAA tournament lives.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Play D without Fouling. This is important for two reasons. 1)Oklahoma State scores over 20% of their points from the foul line and will have the home whistles this afternoon. 2) Texas is still not a deep team and will need Dogus Balbay, Damion James, and AJ Abrams on the floor as much as possible. When even one of those guys sits, the Texas offense struggles and against a very good offensive team, like OSU, Texas will not be able to afford lulls offensively. The second part of this key is to keep the OSU guards out of the lane, particularly Byron Eaton. In the first game, Eaton scored 18 points, including 10-of-14 from the free throw line. Balbay, Justin Mason, and Varez Ward need to force Eaton to take perimeter jumpers. Rick Barnes can live with Eaton shooting from the perimeter. If he makes them, then we probably won’t win. But if he misses, like his season averages suggests he will, then Texas will have a great chance at the upset.
2. Feed Dex when appropriate. This is going to be a tough game for Dexter Pittman, and it will interesting to see how Rick Barnes and Travis Ford play chess. With the way OSU plays offense, it will be very difficult for Dexter to guard any Cowboy on the floor. Barnes could elect to play a 2-3 zone but then the perimeter is open for guys like James Anderson and Obi Muonelo. So, Texas probably stays in man, even with Pittman on the floor and tries to force OSU to go big because they won’t be able to stop Dexter on the other end unless Ford adjusts his lineup. Dexter should get 10-15 minutes and should be able to cause some havoc against the smaller OSU lineup in spurts.
3. Keep crowd out of the game. This is obviously easier said than done. Texas needs to attack the rim, get to the free thrown line, and not settle for perimeter jumpers; they need to limit transition points, and they need to find the OSU shooters in the halfcourt. It Texas is able to do those three things well and put points on the board consistently, then big OSU runs will not be possible and the crowd’s influence will be limited. However, too often we’ve seen this Texas team take contested jump shots, fail to get back in transition, and get lost defensively (Clemente, Anderson, Higgins). A road win is possible but not likely, I’m afraid.