Norman, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Still with an outside chance of sharing in the Big 12 Conference crown, the 24th-ranked Texas Longhorns take to the road to do battle with the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday afternoon.
With a league record of 10-5, Texas is tied for second place in the Big 12 standings with Iowa State, both teams trailing first-place Kansas by two games with three to play. The Longhorns are an impressive 21-7 overall, and they recently put the brakes on a two-game slide by knocking off Baylor at home on Wednesday night, 74-69. Texas is hoping to stop a three-game road losing streak with a victory in this contest.
Just a few weeks ago, Oklahoma had been considered one of the teams that could give the Jayhawks a run for their money, but losses in four of its last seven games has the squad at 20-8 overall and 9-6 in conference. The Sooners dropped an 83-75 verdict at Kansas this past Monday, and they're gunning for their 13th win in 16 home games today.
These two teams faced each other in the Big 12 opener back on Jan. 4, with Oklahoma winning that game in Austin, 88-85. The victory raised the Sooners lead in the all-time series to 49-35. Texas has however, won seven of the last nine meetings.
Despite allowing close to 71 ppg, the Longhorns excel in a couple of different areas, namely rebounding (41.8 rpg) and blocked shots (6.2 bpg), ranking first in the conference in both. When it comes to delivering at the offensive end, the team is putting up 76 ppg, with four players currently averaging in double figures. Jonathan Holmes paces the club with his 13.3 ppg, and he ranks second to Cameron Ridley (11.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg) in rebounding with 7.4 rpg. Isaiah Taylor (12.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) can score as well as set up his teammates, and Javan Felix (12.9 ppg, 51-of-144 from beyond the arc) is the club's long- range sniper, taking more than twice as many 3-point shots as the next guy on the roster.
In the five-point win over Baylor earlier this week, four of the five starters scored in double figures, led by Felix and Ridley with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Ridley also grabbed 10 of the team's 41 rebounds, while Taylor dished out seven assists to go with his 13 points. Felix was a man possessed from long range, nailing 7-of-9 3-point tries to account for his scoring total. Texas won the game despite a rough night at the foul line (10-of-19), thanks to a tough defensive effort that held the Bears to just 36.1 percent accuracy from the field.
Oklahoma is simultaneously one of the top offensive and worst defensive teams in the Big 12, as the Sooners put up 82.5 ppg (second) while yielding 77.0 ppg (10th). They convert their free throws better than any one in the conference (.744), and all five starters are averaging double figures in the scoring column, led by Buddy Hield and his 16.7 ppg. Ryan Spangler brings up the rear in the offensive-minded quintet with 10.3 ppg, and he is the team's leading rebounder (9.6 rpg). Jordan Woodward (10.9 ppg, 4.7 apg) serves as its primary playmaker.
Cameron Clark scored 18 points, Hield hit for 16 and Woodward 10, but those efforts couldn't push the Sooners past the Jayhawks earlier in the week, as they fell by eights points on the road. Oklahoma shot 42.9 percent from 3- point range in the clash, but Kansas was equally effective (.438) and used a significant 26-15 edge in points from the foul line and a 40-29 rebounding advantage to earn a sweep of the two games played against OU this season, and in the process at least a share of the Big 12 title.