Stillwater, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams coming off losses in their respective Big 12 Conference openers get together on Wednesday night, as the Texas Longhorns come calling on the 11th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Texas fell to visiting Oklahoma this past Saturday, 88-85, handing the 'Horns their second loss in the last three games and dropping them to 11-3 on the campaign. UT is hoping to continue its run of success, however brief it may be, in true road games this season as it currently sits at 2-0, beating both Temple and North Carolina in hostile territory.
Oklahoma State recently had a five-game win streak snapped at Kansas State, losing to the Wildcats in a 74-71 final this past Saturday. It was only the second setback for the Cowboys this season, the other coming in the second of two meetings with Memphis (73-68) back on Dec. 1. OSU is 7-0 at home this season.
Texas owns a 45-38 lead in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, but the Pokes won both meetings a season ago. The 'Horns, however, have been victorious in three of their last six trips to Stillwater.
Texas is a solid offensive team (78.8 ppg, .445 FG percentage, .353 3-point FG percentage), but could stand to tighten things up defensively as it yields nearly 71 ppg despite foes shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor. Favorable margins in both rebounding (+7.0) and turnovers (+1.2) have certainly helped the cause for the squad, which also gets a boost from four double-digit scorers, led by Jonathan Holmes and his 13.2 ppg. Holmes also serves as one of the club's top rebounders with 6.7 caroms per contest, while joining Cameron Ridley (11.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Prince Ibeh to form a monster shot-blocking effort, one that has logged 99 blocks compared to only 40 for the opposition.
Javan Felix was a man possessed in the recent loss to Oklahoma, as he poured in a career-high 28 points by going 10-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-8 at the free-throw line. Holmes and Damarcus Croaker hit for 15 apiece, while Ridley pitched in with 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds. As a team, Texas made good on 50.8 percent of its total shots, including 40.9 percent from long range, but suffered a 21-14 deficit in points from the charity stripe while allowing the Sooner to drain 13-of-28 3-point tries (.464). The Longhorns lost the game despite logging significant advantages both in points in the paint (42-20) and bench scoring (46-22).
Oklahoma State is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, coming into the week ranked 13th with an average of 85.7 ppg. The Cowboys have four double-digit scorers of their own, and they are fortunate to have one of the best backcourts in the Big 12 as Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combine to generate 33.4 points, 7.0 assists and 9.3 rebounds per game. Le'Bryan Nash (14.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Phil Forte (12.4 ppg) lend support to a team that has also performed well at the defensive end, limiting the opposition to 64.4 ppg on typical shooting efforts of .377 overall and .296 from beyond the arc. Conversely, the Cowboys are hitting 49.6 percent of their total shots (10th- best nationally), with 37.5 of their 3-point tries finding the bottom of the net. Additionally, the Pokes force nearly 15 turnovers per tilt.
Poor shooting, particularly in the second half, proved disastrous in the Cowboys' recent loss to Kansas State, as the they made just 33.3 percent of their field goal attempts, missing seven of their nine 3-point tries along the way after intermission, which they held a one-point lead at the time. Nash was high man for OSU with 20 points, while Brown finished with 16 points and nine boards, Smart tacked on 15 and six, and Forte tallied 14 points in hitting two of the team's three treys in the game. K-State didn't shoot any better (.367 overall, .238 from beyond the arc), but came away with 28 points in the paint while winning the battle in bench points, 23-14.