No doubt, OU zoned in on Texas
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 6:45 AM
NORMAN - Twenty-four hours after losing at Kansas State, the Oklahoma Sooners were back on the basketball court, running sets, following instructions and flashing "Horns Down" at Sunday's practice.
It's never easy to turn around and play two days after your first conference defeat. Having Texas at the Lloyd Noble Center on Monday night should make the task a little easier for the Sooners.
"We hate Texas," asserted forward Amath M'Baye.
It beats pitying them, something OU coaches had a right to worry about heading into Monday's 8:30 p.m. tipoff.
The Longhorns are 8-9 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12 Conference. The only thing keeping them out of the league basement is that TCU is 0-5.
If the Sooners came in looking only at standings, coming off that hard-fought loss at K-State, they might sleepwalk until the first timeout or two Monday night.
But they are not looking at the opponent's record. Just the opponent.
"Texas is a big rivalry game," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "We like playing those."
Besides, to hear Kruger explain it, the Longhorns' winless Big 12 record is fluky.
"They've had games they well should have won," he said. "West Virginia, they were up 10 with three to go. Kansas, they're up 13 in the second half and playing very well."
That was Saturday. Texas let the Jayhawks escape Austin with a 64-59 victory.
"It gets pretty old because it's the same record and the same way," Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said in postgame. "We do a lot of things well, but we don't win because we don't consistently do it when the game is on the line."
Texas hasn't closed games. They don't have the dynamo, whether Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin or A.J. Abrams, to bail them out of jams. They don't have their best player, Myck Kabongo having been suspended until Feb. 13 for an NCAA impermissible benefits violation.
The Longhorns can, however, defend. Opponents shoot 34.5 percent against them, and just 25 percent from 3-point range. Those figures rank second and first, respectively, in college basketball.
That should have OU's full attention, especially considering how choppy the Sooners were at K-State.
"We need to learn to execute our stuff better," said senior forward Romero Osby. "The defenses are going to be tough like that. That was a top-15 team. Their defense is going to be tough. Texas has a great defense, too."
It's important that the Sooners not get bogged down by last Saturday, or the next one. They go to Kansas this weekend. If they fall tonight, their 3-0 Big 12 start could easily become 3-3.
"I can't imagine our guys thinking about Kansas," Kruger said.
No, probably not. Not with such a high premium placed on bouncing back Monday from the K-State loss.
Not with Texas being the team OU can bounce back against.
"Every game is a must win in the Big 12, but especially going against a rival," Osby said. "Texas, we hate them. They hate us."
Texas at Oklahoma
Texas (8-9, 0-4 Big 12)
Oklahoma (12-4, 3-1)
*assists per game
8:30 p.m. Monday
Radio: KTBZ am1300
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Lon Kruger: The OU coach is not overlooking Texas, despite the Longhorns' 0-4 record in Big 12 play.