Norman

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
35.2225
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-97.4392
Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

A three-game losing streak paired with a trip to Norman to battle No. 23 Oklahoma didn’t appear to be an appetizing meal for Texas’ plate.

But with the Longhorns’ season seemingly pushed to the brink, Texas head coach Shaka Smart’s squad made a concerted effort and played the best brand of basketball the program has seen since the Longhorns’ win over Oklahoma in Austin on Feb. 3.

Texas completed the season sweep over the Sooners on Saturday with a 77-66 road victory — the program’s first win in Norman since 2012. The Longhorns (16–11, 6–8 Big 12) completed a rare wire-to-wire win and surged in the second half on a 12-0 run from about the 13-minute mark to the 9-minute mark to spoil Oklahoma’s Saturday in front of its home fans. Oklahoma has now lost five in a row.

Smart recycled several key strategies that vaulted Texas over Oklahoma back on Feb. 3.

The primary way to beat the Sooners is to lock down the likely Naismith Award winner, Trae Young. The star freshman point guard scored 26 points on Saturday, but for the second time this season, the Longhorns forced him to earn those points in an inefficient manner.

Young shot 33 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three. It wasn’t until Texas had built a comfortable lead in the second half that Young connected on his first triple, ending a cold streak of 20 consecutive misses from long range.

The Longhorns employed freshman point guard Matt Coleman and junior guard Kerwin Roach II as the chief “Trae Young stoppers.” The two played incredible defense and didn’t allow anything easy from beyond the arc, where Oklahoma shot 8-of-30 as a team. Roach and Coleman combined for 23 points, but Texas received its greatest offensive boost from a familiar contributor.

Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski had struggled with his shot lately, faring 14-of-49 in his last five games. But the junior finally delivered the critical performance Texas fans have been longing for with a 21-point, six-rebound outing.

Although his shooting efficiency and resurgence from beyond the arc showed up in the stat sheet, Osetkowski’s game was defined by his hustle. He anchored key sequences in the second half, including rejecting a 3-pointer that led to a fast break, collecting a key offensive rebound and finishing with a momentum-swinging dunk to stave off an Oklahoma comeback with five minutes to go.

With Osetkowski returning to his high offensive caliber from nonconference play, Mo Bamba wasn’t relied on as much offensively. But the touted freshman center corralled a season-high 18 rebounds and stuffed four Oklahoma shots in the 11-point victory. Bamba’s interior presence, combined with the Coleman-Roach backcourt combo, hampered Oklahoma’s ability to score from anywhere on the court.

The win is especially vital for a multitude of reasons. Texas’ tournament odds sharply increased after knocking down another ranked opponent. The Longhorns now share the same conference record as the Sooners (6–8) and match them in the overall win column (16), inching Texas closer to the upper tier of the Big 12.

Texas failed to build momentum after its last victory over Oklahoma, but Smart knows the Longhorns cannot afford to release their foot from the gas pedal in the team’s final four games of the regular season if they want to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

Texas can sustain this level of play, but it'll require a collective effort from the team’s starters, as evidenced by Saturday’s win. The Longhorns take the floor again on Wednesday night when they face Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, hoping to avenge a home loss to the Wildcats on Feb. 7.

The Longhorns traveled to Norman, Okla. for the Big 12 Championships this past weekend, where they suffered a crushing defeat in the semifinal round against No.14 ranked Oklahoma.

Texas began the conference tournament on Friday, pummeling Oklahoma State (4-0). The doubles point was not played due to inclement weather, and would not be played unless a 3-3 singles tie was the result. The Longhorns didn’t even let it get close. Nick Naumann, Daniel Whitehead, Soren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool all got the win in their singles matches, clinching the match for Texas.

Texas looked primed to give Oklahoma a tough run in the semifinals after losing to them in regular season conference play (5-2) on April 5. Everything seemed to be going in the Longhorns’ favor when they won the doubles point, a point which Texas has not lost this season in any of its victories. But the Sooners had other plans. Oklahoma took their 1-0 deficit as it transitioned to singles match play and became resilient, clinching the 4-1 victory in the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 spots.

Texas now waits to hear the seedings for the NCAA Championships seeding on Tuesday.

Junior outfielder Torie Schmidt and the rest of the Longhorns head to Norman this weekend to take on their rival Oklahoma in a matchup that will likely determine the winner of the Big 12. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

The season is coming to a close, but there’s still plenty of work to come. The Longhorns travel north to Norman, Okla. to battle rival Oklahoma, as they look to finish the season strong.

There has always been stiff competition between these two powerhouses. Overall, their series is tied at 21 games apiece. While the Longhorns are winning the series at home, it is a different story on the road. Oklahoma is 9-5 against Texas in its home stadium, but the Longhorns hope to decrease that gap.

Oklahoma, the current Big 12 leader, has won five of its last six games. In a three-game series against Missouri it took three of the games while also beating North Texas, Oklahoma State and Central Arkansas. The Sooners, 40-7, are batting .315 on the season but lead the nation with a pitching staff ERA of .99.

Texas, 40-8, is coming off a winning streak of its own. The team has won five of its last seven with a winning streak of three. The Longhorns took the last two games of a three game series against Texas A&M and recently beat Baylor in their last game. A central part of the team’s success comes from Torie Schmidt, who is hitting .460 against ranked opponents this season. Texas looks for her to continue that in this crucial Big 12 series.

This series has a lot more riding on it than any other Big 12 series this season. Texas and Oklahoma are second and first, respectively, in the Big 12 and this series could determine who wins the title. The Longhorns only have one more conference game after this series. Not only does this weekend determine the Big 12 Champion, but it also has postseason implications. Currently, Texas is ranked No. 4 in the national RPI rankings and both teams are fighting for an NCAA Tournament seed.

After their series win against rival Texas A&M, Texas head coach Connie Clark stated that it was poise that helped the Longhorns win.

“I thought we stayed very poised and with very good focus, zeroing in when we needed to,” Clark said.

As they come close to postseason play, that poise is something the Longhorns want to continue, helping to not only capture a Big 12 Championship but also make a tournament run. Focus is key to accomplishing their goal and realize what they need to do.

This is a crucial time for the Longhorns. A series loss here could make a big difference in the attitude of the Longhorns and how they will handle the postseason. The team looks to continue their tough defense while adding in a strong offense and they hope to come out of the weekend with a better look at where they will be come the end of the season.