Of all of the games that Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns would probably like to get a second shot at, a January 8th loss at Stillwater may very well be at the top of the list. In a league where road wins are hard to come by, a poor first half performance for Texas dug such a big hole that a second half push wasn’t enough to climb out of against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The result was that took a loss on the road in a game that it surely could have won with better play.
But you can’t replay the past. All that matters is what happens next. And so Texas gets another crack at the Cowboys, this time at home.
Since these two teams last met, things have been rough for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 2-9 in the Big 12, with their other win coming against West Virginia.
And that isn’t all of the bad news. Head coach Mike Boynton kicked three players off the team in mid-January, including point guard Michael Weathers. With Weathers no longer part of the OSU program, freshman Isaac Likekele has been asked to pick up the slack and has gone through the sorts of struggles that are typical of a freshman lead guard.
The most dangerous offensive players remaining for Boynton are junior wing sharpshooters Lindy Waters and Thomas Dziagwa, and athletic junior forward Cameron McGriff. If the Cowboys find a way to pull the upset, it will likely involve one or more of these players going off on one end, and Texas struggling to create against a defense that plays really hard — but isn’t always that effective — on the other end of the court.
In the previous match up between these two teams, Oklahoma State’s defense created problems for the Longhorns by employing a defensive tactic that has given Texas trouble all season. Cowboy perimeter defenders overplayed Longhorn ball handlers to force them towards the sideline and take away the middle penetration that the Texas offense lives off of. By keeping Kerwin Roach and Matt Coleman out of the middle of the floor, and taking away their ability to drive down the center of the defense and directly into the paint, coach Boynton’s men took away the thing that the Longhorns do best.
It is the same tactic that Texas Tech bases it’s entire defense around, and that Kansas State used to slow down the Texas offense in the second half of their recent game.
The Longhorns will need to be prepared and have a plan to attack this sort of defense.
The game tips in Austin at noon Central and airs on CBS.