The Texas Longhorns have yet to win a game outside of Austin this season, making a trip to face the 8-16 Oklahoma Sooners one of the best remaining chances to do so. Meanwhile, Lon Kruger’s Sooners will be looking to end a seven game losing streak.
As bad as things have gone so far this season for Shaka Smart’s team in Austin, OU has had things even worse. The Sooners are the only team in the Big 12 looking up at Texas in the conference standings, and a loss to Texas tonight would make their chances of climbing out of the basement highly unlikely. While OU might have looked to be turning the corner a month ago, with back-to-back wins including an unlikely road victory against West Virginia, they were not.
Much like the Longhorns, the Sooners have been struggling with a young team that is generally inept on the offensive end of the floor. And with the news over the weekend that senior point guard Jordan Woodard's career was ended over the weekend by a torn ACL, things aren't going to get easier any time soon.
Before we go on, a word about Woodard, who gets a disappointing end to what was a pretty solid career. He has been a fixture in the OU lineup since his freshman year, playing alongside Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins. Woodard has been to a Final Four and was an important contributor on several of the better Oklahoma teams over the past decade — this is high praise when we consider just how many good teams the Sooners have had over this time period. Junior Darrion Stronge-Moore and freshman Jordan Shepherd will run the offense from this point on.
The source of Oklahoma’s offensive futility is an inability to put the ball in the hole from inside the three-point line. Kruger’s team is shooting below 45 percent on two-point attempts in Big 12 games, in large part because the young Sooners struggle to convert around the basket. OU has exactly two players who have converted on more than half of their twos this season: starting center Khadeem Lattin and his backup Jamuni McNeace.
OU’s best chance to put points on the board comes from long range where Kristian Doolittle, Kameron McGusty, and Christian James are all effective to varying degrees. The last time these two teams played it was Doolittle’s 4-5 performance behind the arc that nearly allowed OU to steal a win on the road, and OU’s best means to score against a fairly sound Texas defense will likely involve long range shooting yet again.
Rebuilds are never fun when your team is at the bottom of its talent cycle. Both Texas and OU find themselves in this situation, making this a rare chance for both squads to pick up a conference victory.
The game tips at 8 PM CST, and airs on ESPN2.