In what appears to be a down year for the Big 12, Texas is the class of the conference. This may be its best chance for the rest of the season to cement that belief.
The fourth-ranked Longhorns look to run their winning streak to 10 games as they face the only other ranked team in the Big 12 when they visit No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday.
While every other team in the conference has at least two league losses, Texas (17-2, 5-0) has won its first five Big 12 games by an average of 26.4 points. The Longhorns are riding their longest winning streak since a 10-game run from Jan. 15-Feb. 15, 1994.
After this matchup with the Sooners (12-4, 3-2), Texas has five road games remaining and only one of those opponents—Kansas State—has fewer than five losses and a winning conference record. The Longhorns don’t again face second-place Colorado this season and their only game against perennial Big 12 power Kansas will be at home.
Oklahoma, though, has won three straight and swept both meetings with Texas last season, including a 64-60 home victory.
The Longhorns further showed they are the superior team of the Big 12 with an 80-46 rout Monday of Oklahoma State, leaving December losses to then-No. 1 Duke and then-unranked Tennessee further behind. During this nine-game win streak, Texas has averaged 79.4 points and has not allowed any opponent to score more than 64.
“We are rolling,” said Longhorns guard Daniel Gibson, who had five 3-pointers and scored 18 points Monday. “It feels good.”
Gibson is third on the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game but has averaged 23.7 over his last three while making 18-of-30 from 3-point range. The sophomore guard is one of five players to lead the Longhorns in scoring during the win streak.
“That’s just the beauty of our team, we’ve got so many guys who can do it,” Longhorns forward P.J. Tucker said. “That’s a strength of our team. We think we’ve got a mismatch coming into every game with somebody.”
Tucker averages 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds, second on the team to LaMarcus Aldridge’s 16.4 points and 9.4 boards per game.
Oklahoma (12-4, 3-2) has won three straight after starting Big 12 play 0-2 and is trying to build off an 82-52 rout at Baylor on Wednesday.
Taj Gray and Michael Everett each scored 16 points for the Sooners, who made quick work of a Bears team playing just its fourth game after NCAA-imposed sanctions prevented them from playing a non-conference schedule.
More important than the win for coach Kelvin Sampson was the confidence his Sooners displayed, something missing at the outset of conference action.
“Confidence comes through in your swagger,” Sampson said. “Our program has always had a swagger, regardless of where we play. This team is just now starting to get it.”
Despite the fact the Sooners are 8-1 at home this season, Everett has struggled at the Lloyd Noble Center. The senior guard has averaged just 9.8 points on 35.9 percent shooting, including 21.9 percent from 3-point range.
The Sooners lead this 96-year-old rivalry 44-21, including a 20-7 record at home.