The No. 10 Texas Longhorns took control early against the Oklahoma State Cowboys and never relinquished it in one of the most complete performances of the season, a 89-75 win on Tuesday at the Moody Center to finish the regular-season sweep of the Cowboys.
After taking a 4-2 lead, Oklahoma State never led again as Texas stretched the margin to as many as 15 points late in the game and kept the Cowboys from going on a run longer than two straight made baskets.
In the type of performance that is becoming increasingly familiar this season, Texas guard Marcus Carr scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting with four assists. Guard Brock Cunningham provided supplementary scoring by coming through with clutch baskets in setting his career high with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including making all three three-point attempts. Forward Timmy Allen added 17 points by getting to the free-throw line and converting, hitting 7-of-8 attempts from the charity stripe.
Turnovers were a problem at times for the Longhorns with 17 giveaways, but the defense forced 16 turnovers and interim head coach Rodney Terry’s team was more opportunistic with a nine-point advantage in points off turnovers in addition to shooting efficiently, hitting 50.9 percent from the field, 61.5 percent from three, and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Texas benefitted from the activity of forward Dillon Mitchell on the offensive glass early — after going scoreless in road games against Iowa State and West Virginia, Mitchell scored two putbacks before the under-16 timeout for his first points in 10 days.
The second putback by Mitchell started an 8-0 run by the Longhorns featuring four made baskets, including a three by Carr and two layups by forward Christian Bishop, to take a 14-6 lead and force a timeout by Cowboys head coach Mike Boynton.
But the timeout didn’t stem the home team’s momentum as Oklahoma State missed a layup and then turned the ball over before giving up another three to Carr on an inbounds play. A three in response by Cowboys guard John-Michael Wright broke 4:04 scoreless drought during which the Longhorns scored 11 straight points.
The Pokes found a better offensive rhythm halfway through the first half, bouncing back from five straight misses to hit 5-of-10 shots, although the Longhorns went into the under-eight timeout with a seven-point lead thanks to a three from Cunningham.
The three from Cunningham came during a stretch in which Texas gave up too many looks at the rim, allowing two layups and two dunks in addition to two threes with a quick 5-0 run by Oklahoma State on scores in transition prompting a timeout by Terry with the score at 33-30 with 4:30 remaining in the half.
Five straight misses from the Cowboys, as well as two errant free throws, allowed the Horns to extend the lead back to eight points courtesy of a mid-range jumper from Carr. and a three from guard Sir’Jabari Rice to take a 40-32 lead into halftime. A block by Cunningham and a steal by Allen that led to Rice’s three loomed large in the closing stretch.
The second half got off to a strong start for the Horns with Allen converting a three-point play, a steal by forward Dylan Disu producing a fast-break layup for Carr, who then showed off his shot-making ability with a step-back jumper, although Texas wasn’t able to maintain the double-digit lead into the first media timeout of the second half.
Neither team was able to gain an advantage over the ensuing stretch, but a drive by Texas guard Arterior Morris was able to force the fourth foul on Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson with 11:26 remaining, sending the second-leading scorer for the Cowboys to the bench.
The foul situation became an issue for Oklahoma State in the second half with Texas getting into the bonus with 12:17 left and into the double bonus with 9:59 remaining, but it was threes from Cunningham and guard Tyrese Hunter that really hurt the Cowboys ahead of the under-eight timeout, negating a 4-of-5 shooting stretch and affording the Longhorns a 71-60 lead at the penultimate media break thanks to four straight made baskets.
Texas remained in control, tying the largest lead of the game at 13 points when Cunningham hit a three at the 4:14 mark, a lead extended after the under-four timeout by two free throws from Allen.
From there, the Longhorns. cruised to the finish line.
Starting trip to Knoxville to face former head coach Rick Barnes and No. 4 Tennessee, Texas enters the most difficult stretch of the season with four straight games against top-25 opponents, with three of those games coming on the road.