The No. 6 Texas Longhorns look to get back to their winning ways when a full roster of scholarship players travels to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon for a key Big 12 Conference clash in Stillwater, Okla.
The Longhorns (11-4, 5-3 Big 12) have lost three of their past four games, most recently 83-69 at home to No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday. Oklahoma State (11-5, 4-5) heads home after Wednesday’s 81-78 loss at TCU, in which the Cowboys led late but couldn’t make the plays in the final seconds.
Texas befell the same fate as everyone else against undefeated Baylor this season — one mistake or small misstep is all the Bears need to run away and win.
The Longhorns took a 47-45 lead on a runout dunk by Andrew Jones at the 16:26 mark as part of a 13-4 Longhorns run to start the second half. Minutes later, Texas’ Greg Brown III was whistled for a technical after a dunk, leading to a four-point possession for Baylor, and the Bears were never headed again.
Jones scored a career-high 25 points for Texas, with Matt Coleman III hitting for 13 points, Courtney Ramey tallying 12 and Jericho Sims scoring 10. Texas hit just 3 of 14 free throws in the loss, a season-low 21.4 percent.
“Baylor’s ahead of us right now — that’s a fact,” Longhorns coach Shaka Smart said after the defeat. “Now, they’re ahead of a lot of people. But that gives us one option: If we want to be able to beat teams like that later in the year, and that is get better.”
The Longhorns’ loss to Baylor was in just their third game in 17 days and the first time in nearly three weeks that Texas had its full complement of scholarship players — and their coach — because of COVID-19 protocols. But don’t think the Longhorns used that as an excuse.
“Regardless if it was 19 days or if we’ve been together 50 days, Coach has tried to establish a culture that can travel regardless of how long we’ve been away,” Jones said. “Our defense just wasn’t at its level (against Baylor) as it’s supposed to be.”
Oklahoma State dropped the season series to TCU, losing both games in the final seconds.
In Wednesday’s defeat, Cade Cunningham, the Cowboys’ freshman guard who is the likely No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, scored all 19 of his points in the second half, and 15 of those in the final 10 minutes. But he missed a contested layup late with the game tied and 17 seconds remaining.
TCU grabbed the rebound and scored on the other end with 2.2 seconds remaining to grab the victory.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said afterward that he was not pleased with his team’s mental focus.
“We didn’t have the urgency that we needed to go on the road and win in this league,” Boynton said. “Part of that is on me as a coach to make sure that our guys understand what’s at stake, what we’re playing for. The guys gotta go out there and play and fight.
“We didn’t do that from the beginning — we were playing catch-up. We weren’t ourselves.”
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Rondel Walker had 16 points, and Bryce Williams scored 11 points in loss to TCU, which snapped the Cowboys’ two-game winning streak for the Cowboys.
Texas and Oklahoma State played earlier this season in Austin, with the then-No. 11 Longhorns escaping with a 77-74 win. The two teams have split their season series each year since the 2015-16 campaign.
–Field Level Media