The Texas Longhorns punched themselves in their primary sex organs on Wednesday, suffering a tough and harmful loss at the Kansas State Wildcats in a game where a somewhat competent offensive performance could have delivered a win.
Adding insult to injury, an ice storm in Kansas delayed the Texas return flight home. The final hit came Friday morning when Eric Davis’ name turned up in a leaked document from the FBI’s investigation into various payments that go on in college basketball. But life goes on, the games continue, and now the Longhorns must lick their self-inflicted wounds and get ready to face Oklahoma State (16-12; 6-9).
A quick look at the Cowboys
Oklahoma State, led by first year head coach Mike Boynton, has a roster of solid basketball players, but lacks a dynamic offensive creator. They partly make up for this by running pretty good offense, and have players who can score the ball within their system. The best of these players is senior wing Jeffrey Carroll, who is the Cowboy's best offensive threat. But this team is more than just Carroll; to get the lowdown on the Cowboys I direct you to the preview the last time these two teams met.
On the defensive end of the floor the OSU has really struggled. Their performance this season is starting to make me wonder if there is something to the Big Ten Geeks' argument that the Brad Underwood / Mike Boynton flavor of pressure defense is difficult to make work in contemporary high-major basketball. I still argue that South Carolina and West Virginia show that succeeding with this general style of defense is not impossible, but this season and last have demonstrated that Underwood and company aren't just going to jump into Power Five basketball and dominate in the same manner as what happened at Stephen F. Austin. Too bad they couldn't bring Thomas Walkup with them.
That said, this defense did give Texas trouble the last time these two teams played. It pushes teams out of their offensive structure and forces them to improvise. If Texas handles things better this time around, it could lead to a big game for Kerwin Roach making plays off the dribble.
What happened the last time these two teams met?
These two teams played a little more than a month ago in Stillwater; it was a game the Texas Longhorns had every chance to win. Texas held a nine-point lead with five minutes remaining, but slowly watched that lead slip away. The Cowboys made more plays then the Longhorns down the stretch to seal a one-point victory.
What has Oklahoma State been up to since last facing Texas?
While the Cowboys aren't a great team, they have certainly had some great wins this season. The best, and most perplexing, are road victories at Kansas and West Virginia. They are also coming off of a home win against Texas Tech, although that game played out the way it did in part because Keenan Evans was limited by injury, and only lasted 25 mostly ineffective minutes.
OSU has compiled a pretty weird resume for a team that is 6-9 in Big 12 play, but the Big 12 has turned out to be a pretty weird league this season.
What does this game mean?
While the Texas Longhorns NCAA tournament hopes took a big hit on Wednesday night, there still remain a few non-insane paths the Longhorns can take to stay in the bubble conversation. Most of those non-insane paths involve a win on Saturday against the Cowboys. Until single elimination play starts, there are no real "must-win" games, but this one is about as close as it gets.
The game tips in Austin on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT, and airs on the Longhorn Network.