With the Big 12 regular season coming to a close, Texas hasn’t exactly been dominating its opponents. The Longhorns should be in for another tough game when they meet a surging Oklahoma State team on Saturday night in Stillwater.
Texas goes for its third win in a row overall and seventh straight over a Cowboys squad that has turned its season around after the teams’ first meeting this season.
The 25th-ranked Longhorns (19-8, 8-5) won their second consecutive game Wednesday, 87-81 over a struggling Texas Tech team that was missing its head coach. Pat Knight was handed a one-game suspension by the conference for criticizing the officiating following the Red Raiders’ previous game.
“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game with their coach out,” Texas senior A.J. Abrams said. “I bet they had some extra motivation to play harder.”
Abrams, the Longhorns’ leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, had a team-high 24 against Texas Tech. He has scored 20 or more in four of the last five games, including 20 in Texas’ 99-74 win over Oklahoma State on Feb. 10.
The Longhorns posted their most lopsided conference win of the season with that victory, but have won their last three games by an average of just 6.7 points.
“Believe it or not, this team is used to close games and this time of year I think you’re going to be in close games,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes, whose team snapped a season-high three-game slide with its win over the Cowboys earlier in month.
Longhorns junior Damion James looks for his fifth straight double-double Saturday after posting 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Red Raiders.
He missed 10 of 14 shots but made a career-high 12 free throws in 15 attempts. Texas hit a season-best 31 free throws against Texas Tech.
“I just had to do what I had to do to help my team win tonight,” James said. “I shot poor from the field, but it was OK.”
James, though, is shooting 58.3 percent in seven career games against Oklahoma State. He is averaging 16.8 points and 11.8 boards in Texas’ last four games versus the Cowboys.
Texas sophomore forward Gary Johnson—averaging 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds—is expected to play Saturday after missing Wednesday’s game with a twisted left ankle.
Oklahoma State (18-9, 7-6) returns to Gallagher-Iba Arena after winning its fourth in a row, 76-55 at Colorado on Wednesday. Sophomore guard James Anderson posted his second career double-double Wednesday with 30 points and 10 rebounds and was named Big 12 co-player of the week.
“That was an emotional game for our team for a lot of different reasons and then we have Texas next,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said.
The Cowboys, who last defeated Texas 105-103 in triple overtime on Jan. 16, 2007, began their current winning streak following the loss to Texas on Feb. 10. Anderson scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-16 shooting in that defeat.
The Longhorns will also have to find a way to slow down Byron Eaton, second in the Big 12 with 5.7 assists per game. With five assists against the Buffaloes, the senior guard became the ninth player in conference history to record at least 500 in his career.