Trying to bounce back from Monday’s road loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the No. 6 Texas Longhorns return to host the Oklahoma Sooners at the Moody Center on Saturday in a must-win game for the Longhorns if acting head coach Rodney Terry’s team wants to win the Big 12 regular-season title.
With five games remaining, Texas still has to play road games at Baylor and TCU in addition to hosting Iowa State and Kansas, a tough schedule for a program that is currently tied for first place with the Bears and Jayhawks.
Oklahoma is now tied for last place in the Big 12 with a 3-10 record, but is coming off a 14-point win over No. 12 Kansas State on Tuesday. The challenge for the Sooners is that they’ve played poorly on the road, winning only one of seven games.
To start conference play, Texas pulled out a 70-69 win in Norman when guard Marcus Carr hit a go-ahead jumper with 48 seconds remaining before combining with guard Sir’Jabari Rice to make six free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. Carr and forward Timmy Allen both scored 13 points to lead the Longhorns while Rice added 11.
Texas has struggled to get off to fast starts in recent weeks for a variety of reasons. After turning the ball over early in several recent games, the Longhorns had issues defensively against the Red Raiders in the first half.
“We played extremely hard, put ourselves in a great position in the second half to win this ballgame here, but I thought, again, in the first half we didn’t come out and really guard the way we needed to guard,” Terry said. “We did a great job of taking care of the basketball, but we didn’t do a great job defensively to start the game. And give them credit. They made shots in the first half, and they played well.”
After Texas Tech guard De’Vion Harmon scored 21 points in the first half, Terry made a key defensive adjustment in trapping Harmon on ball screens, limiting his impact over the final 20 minutes. The tactic allowed the Longhorns to tie the game after facing deficit as high as 13 points, but the Red Raiders started using forward Fardaws Aimaq on a short roll to defeat the trap and he was able to find cutters to score critical points down the stretch as the Texas cratered late — the Horns missed eight of their final nine field-goal attempts.
Throughout the game, the Texas offense was able to consistently generate good looks, many of which weren’t converted in a game the Longhorns shot only 39 percent from the field. Allen scored only two points while missing all four of his shot attempts. Carr’s struggles from the free-throw line didn’t help, either — the star Texas made only 4-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Texas has won five of the last six games against Oklahoma, including four straight.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m. Central
TV: Big 12 Now/ESPN+