By: Jonathan Gurley
The 6th ranked Texas longhorns opened up Big 12 play against the rival Oklahoma Sonner on the road in the Loyd Noble Center in Norman. This was the fourth concective time the horns have won in the Loyd Noble Center, and the first big test for the Horns and interim head coach Rodney Terry. This being the first road game of the season, with games away from the Moodey Center, with three being played at neutral sites. The Big 12 is always a challenging basketball conference to win in, and how Oklahoma played is just a test of how good the Big 12 will be this year. Oklahoma has been the most challenging opponent for the longhorns this year on just how well the Sooners played defense. Oklahoma held the horns to only 70 points which is low considering this team scored 87, 100, and then 92; to only hold the Horns to 70 is about what the Sooners do, only giving up 69.6 PPG so far this season. The ability of Rodney Terry to make adjustments, especially after halftime when the horns were down 35-31, and the ability to keep the guys in the game.
Now, on to what went right for the Horns. First, the play of Sir’Jabri Rice late in the game, especially at the free throw line, going 7-7 from the line Rice arguably had the play of the game. With 2:07 left, down by three got Jacob Groves to foul him in the corner behind the line for three free throws. At the time, the Horns were down three and struggling to hit threes, and Rice was able to get to the line to tie the game. This has been an enormous part of Rice’s game. His pump fake ability to draw shooting fouls, especially on Saturday when the team struggled to shoot, is an excellent ability to have, especially in games like that. The second thing that went right was the play of the bigs Christain Bishop, Dylan Disu, and the star of the group Timmy Allen in his second year at Texas, continues to come up huge for the Horns time and time again. Allen was the leading scorer with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Allen was getting down and dirty in the post Battling with Sooners forward Tanner Groves; the two were going back and forth all day, even exhaling words at some point. But Timmy’s ability to get down low and score when the horns needed a basket was huge. The third key point was Marcus Carr’s steady improvement as the season progressed. Dropping 44 against Texas A&M Commerce a couple of days ago to scoring 13 points, going 2-3 from 3pt range. He only shot 4-12 total from the field, but that is because OU’s defense forced bad shots when Carr went inside to get to the basket. Compared to Carr struggling early in the season, limiting those and playing good ball is excellent for the longhorns. The last essential part in the Horn’s win was Oklahoma’s scoring, mainly in the second half. OU guard Grant Sherfield the nation’s best 3pts shooter was nonexistent for 18 of the 20-minute second. He finished the game with 22 pts with 18 in the first half, so when the nation’s best three-point shooters does not score for almost the whole half in a recipe for success for the other team. The Longhorns were able to go on multiple scoring runs early in the second half to tie up the game and eventually win in the very end.
The final score was Horns 70, Sooners 69 great way to open up big 12 play, especially on the road against your rival Rodney Terry has this squad playing some good ball. The Horn’s next game is January 3rd, when they take on the Kansas State Wildcats.