The No. 14 Texas Longhorns were physically overwhelmed on Saturday in Stillwater against a bigger and more athletic Oklahoma State Cowboys team in a disappointing 64-51 loss that featured 6-of-22 shooting from three-point range and 29.6-percent shooting overall in the second half.
“We don’t say this often with our teams, but we’ll own it when it’s true — the more aggressive team won tonight,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said.
Oklahoma State won the turnover battle, forcing 14 by Texas and conceding only nine, and took advantage of those mistakes, scoring 18 points off turnovers to only eight for the Longhorns.
Texas started off slowly, trailing 6-0 before scoring for the first time while turning the ball over four times. The Longhorns finished weakly, failing to record any points over the final 2:27 and missing their final five shots as the Cowboys closed with a 12-1 run. In between, Texas never led and never even managed to tie the game after the jump ball to tip it off.
Against KenPom.com top-55 opponents on the season, head coach Chris Beard’s team is 1-3 after going 10-21 over his last two seasons at Texas Tech.
Senior guard Marcus Carr regressed after two strong performance to open Big 12 play, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers and three assists. At one point Carr threw the ball off an official after mistaking them for a teammate, a telling anecdote for how the Texas offense performed on Saturday.
The other guards weren’t able to pick up the slack, either. Senior Courtney Ramey managed nine points, but hit only 2-of-7 shots and turned the ball over three times, finishing -25. Senior Jase Febres only managed two points in 12 minutes. And even though senior Andrew Jones reached double figures in his return from health and safety protocols, he was only 4-of-11 shooting.
With the guards struggling, the frontcourt needed to pick up the slack. Instead, the Horns clearly missed junior forward Tre Mitchell, who did not travel with the team due to health and safety protocols, as senior Christian Bishop only took one field-goal attempt and junior Dylan Disu was 3-of-10 shooting with two turnovers.
With the offense affording the defense little margin for error, the Longhorns couldn’t come up with enough stops or enough turnovers. The Cowboys only managed to shoot 38.5 percent for the game, but hitting eight threes at 47.1-percent shooting had a big impact on the game after Oklahoma State entered the contest hitting at 28.1 percent.
The more aggressive team also got rewarded with 23 free throws compared to only seven for the visitors after Texas once again went the entire first half without getting to the line.
Wins can redeem ugly performances, but a picture is emerging of a flawed Longhorns team that can struggle against longer, more athletic opponents, rarely gets easy baskets even when turning opponents over, doesn’t get to the free-throw line often, and is underachieving in the area of three-point shooting.
If Beard’s team can’t gain an advantage in possessions by forcing turnovers at a high rate, there’s not much margin for error considering the group’s lack of high-level athleticism.
The conference schedule is back-loaded, so there’s still time to make incremental improvements against the more beatable opponents in the Big 12, but it’s quickly becoming clear that the offensive issues aren’t just aesthetic in nature — they’re a direct result of how difficult everything is and the lack of consistency from game to game from experienced players.
Texas returns home on Tuesday for a rivalry game against Oklahoma.