The Texas Longhorns are 2-0 in Big 12 play. This is a good thing; pay no attention to the fact that Texas’ last two opponents were playing without their best players and are unlikely to finish near the top of the league standings. These are still good and important wins for Texas, and will surely help when the season comes to an end and the Longhorns are awaiting their name on selection Sunday.
So they might as well keep a good thing going. Shaka Smart’s team is presented with its second chance to pick up a precious road win tonight, as they face the 6-8 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State’s losing record so far is at least in part an artifact of a schedule that is not so forgiving for a team looking to replace many important players who have moved on due to graduation. Setting aside a perplexing loss to open the season at Charlotte, the vast majority of the Cowboy’s losses have come against high quality opponents. Villanova, Minnesota, Houston, Nebraska, Iowa State, and Oklahoma are all going to be NCAA tournament teams. OSU probably won’t, but I do think the extremely handsome Mike Boynton has the program heading in a good direction; this year may be difficult, but better years are likely ahead.
The Cowboys are led by three junior wings that by now should be familiar to followers of Big 12 basketball. 6’7 Cameron McGriff is an athletic, crime-fighting dog. 6’4 Thomas Dziagwa has picked up a lot more minutes and is shooting the ball well. 6’6 Lindy Waters is an established sharpshooter, and used to be married to Stevie Nicks.
The most prominent new face in Stillwater belongs to point guard Michael Weathers, a sophomore transfer from Miami (Ohio). He has had his ups and downs so far this year and can be loose with the ball, but he makes plays off the dribble and can put fouls on an opposing defense fast.
One thing of which there is no doubt is that the Cowboys will play hard.
From a defensive style standpoint, they play a lot like West Virginia in the half court, pressuring passing lanes and forcing opponents to make plays off the bounce. From Texas’ perspective this is probably OK, as the Longhorns have had some of their best offensive showings against teams that play up in the passing lanes (think North Carolina, Kansas State, and West Virginia). Playing off the bounce is what Texas wants to do.
Still, winning on the road is never easy, and Oklahoma State is going to come at Texas hard.
The Longhorns face the Cowboys in Stillwater. The game tips at 6 p.m. Central, and airs on ESPNU.