The No. 10 Texas Longhorns were back home on Tuesday and got back into the win column, controlling the contest in a 89-75 win over Oklahoma State.
Here are a few quick thoughts’ from Texas’ 14-point win.
Texas mostly controlled from start to finish. Early on, Oklahoma State constantly threw punches of its own to pull back within reach every time Texas starting creating some cushion. But as the game wore on, Texas started answering seemingly every OSU bucket and maintained and grew its lead to a point that was fairly comfortable down the stretch. And ultimately, Texas never once trailed in this one after an early 4-2 deficit. In the Big 12 where even the underwhelming teams aren’t easy wins, that’s an impressive feat, especially given Okie State is among the best defensive teams in the nation — they entered ranked No. 8 in defensive efficiency. For a squad that’s had to come back to come away with a win several times this season, Rodney Terry will take a win like this.
Tyrese Hunter has to be better. Early in the season, it seemed like Hunter might be the Horns’ best player, but probably dating back to the Illinois game, he may not be among Texas’ five best, and this was yet another example of the former Big 12 Freshman of the Year having next to no impact. He finished with just five points and didn’t score until nearly 30 minutes into the game. Eventually, performances like this are going to start negatively impacting the win column, and if he could just find a way to return to his early-season form, it will instantly raise Texas’ ceiling fairly significantly.
Marcus Carr is playing himself into the top of the Big 12 Player of the Year race. In a league with no shortage of high-level talent and contributors, Carr is among the very best. He’s taken his game to an entirely new level this year and night in and night out, he’s the Longhorns’ best player, taking over in key moments and hitting clutch buckets. And while clutch buckets weren’t necessarily needed tonight, that’s largely because Carr was the best player on the floor once again, finishing with 21 points on 7-11 from the field. I’m not sure what this team would look like without him, but Texas wouldn’t be in the top 10 and creeping up on 20 wins if he wasn’t.
Brock Cunningham had himself a night. A perfect 3-3 from deep, five boards, an assist, a steal, and a blocked shot on a three-point attempt that he swatted into the stands. His impact is often felt beyond the box score, but tonight, the glue guy’s offensive showcase absolutely mattered in Texas’ 14-point win as he recorded a new career-high with 15 points. And to cap it all off, a standing ovation as he briefly went to the bench with just over two minutes remaining.
This might have been the easiest game Texas will have in some time. It’s certainly ideal that they capitalized with a convincing win and can now build on that as they gear up for a four-game stretch @ No. 4 Tennessee, vs. No. 17 Baylor, @ No. 5 Kansas State, and @ No. 9 Kansas. For better or worse, we’re about to learn a lot about this group.