If there’s one thing that the Big 12 Conference demands, it’s consistency from game to game.
Entering the second contest of a six-game stretch against ranked opponents, the Texas Longhorns will put their consistency to the test on Tuesday evening in Norman against the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners in a rivalry game.
Texas players spoke of the 24-hour rule after Saturday’s buzzer-beating, 75-73 home win over the No. 9 Baylor Bears, a necessary mentality heading into a rivalry game that once again feels like a must win for a team that only crawled into the last four out in ESPN’s Bracketology this week following the upset of Baylor.
The dramatic win on a layup by Texas junior guard Tyrese Hunter came after several days of soul searching after giving up a 12-point halftime lead against UCF at the Moody Center on Wednesday.
Now the Longhorns have to demonstrate the same intensity on the road against an opponent that has overachieved compared to preseason expectations.
When former Loyola Chicago head coach Porter Moser took over in Norman, the question surrounding his tenure with Oklahoma was whether he could translate his low-major success, including a dream run to the Final Four in 2018, into consistent success in the nation’s strongest basketball conference.
Through two seasons, the answer was resoundingly to the negative as the Sooners missed the NCAA Tournament in both seasons and failed to even qualify for the NIT last year with a 15-17 record.
If the poor results didn’t put Moser on the hot seat, there was certainly significantly increased pressure for Oklahoma to show significant improvement this season despite the league’s coaches picking the Sooners to finish 12th among the 14 teams now competing in the Big 12.
Compounding or perhaps aiding Moser was the turnover from last year’s team with leading scorers Grant Sherfield, Tanner Moser, and Jalen Hill either exhausting their eligibility or transferring. As is the norm in this era of college basketball, Moser turned to the transfer portal, adding guard Javian McCollum from Siena, guard Le’Tre Dathard from Utah Valley, forward Jalon Moore from Georgia Tech, and forward John Hughley IV from Pittsburgh.
The additions have paid off for Moser with McCollum leading the team in scoring at 14.9 point per game and made threes with 39. Roster development has helped, too, as big, physical sophomore guard Otega Oweh has matured from a reserve who played less than 15 minutes per game last season into the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game and shooting 59.3 percent from three on 27 attempts.
Moore and forward Sam Godwin do the dirty work on the offensive and defensive glass and blocking shots at the rim. Godwin is particularly effective at getting to the free-throw line, which could present difficulties for Texas senior forward Dylan Disu, who has been in constant foul trouble since conference play started.
Oklahoma is 15-3 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play with KenPom.com ranking the Sooners No. 21 nationally in adjusted efficiency with the No. 47 offense and the No. 18 defense after facing a weak non-conference schedule. The statistical profile for Oklahoma reveals a team that is elite at defending the three-point line, ranking No. 6 nationally in holding opponents to 27.7-percent shooting from beyond the arc, and rebounds the basketball well. Turnovers are an issue offensively and the Sooners don’t create giveaways at a high rate, either, but Oklahoma does score efficiently, ranking 31st with an efficient field-goal percentage of 55.0 percent.
BartTorvik.com gives Texas a 28-percent win probability in a projected 75-69 victory by Oklahoma. The Longhorns have won five straight meetings against the Sooners, six of the last seven, and four straight at Lloyd Noble Center.
How to watch
Time: 6:00 p.m. Central
Odds: Oklahoma is a 4.5-point favorite, according to DraftKings.
Odds/lines are subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.