Stillwater

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Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas got some of its worst news of the season on Thursday when it found out senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau had been ruled out indefinitely because of a left wrist injury she sustained in the Longhorns’ win over Kansas State on Feb. 10.

But the No. 6 Longhorns responded with a collective beatdown on Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, defeating No. 21 Oklahoma State, 77-62, in a game in which every player saw time on the court. Texas has now won seven games in a row.

Joyner Holmes, Caron-Goudreau’s replacement, made her presence known in the opening quarter. The 6-foot-3-inch sophomore forward took advantage of what was only her second start of the season, racking up an early 6 points, four rebounds and a block as the Longhorns claimed a 21-14 lead with 1:40 left to go.

But Oklahoma State responded, turning to freshman guard Braxtin Miller for a spark. Miller torched the Longhorns for 23 points when the two teams previously met on Jan. 3, and Saturday was no different.

Miller found that same swagger in the opening quarter, scoring 4 points as part of Oklahoma State’s 6-0 run to end the quarter. And with that, a quarter in which Texas dominated the Cowgirls, the Longhorns clung to a 1-point advantage, 21-20.

Texas upped the intensity in the second quarter, forcing five Oklahoma State turnovers and holding the Cowgirls to just 5-for-15 shooting.

This time, it was senior guard Brooke McCarty who led the charge on the offensive end, scoring 7 points in the quarter as the Longhorns opened up a 38-30 lead heading into halftime.

“We talked a little bit earlier this week about how if you get an open shot, you shoot,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “Especially with Brooke. She has a green light, so she needed to look more for her shot, and she did that today.”

Everything went wrong for Oklahoma State in the third quarter as Texas began to pull away. The Longhorns kicked off the second half with a crushing blow, jumping out to an 8-0 run in the first three minutes.

It was Jatarie White’s turn this time around. The junior forward fueled the run, scoring 6 points and forcing the Cowgirls into an early timeout.

Things didn’t get any easier for Oklahoma State, as the team shot a woeful 4-for-15 from the field. It was a group effort on the other side of the court, as six different Longhorn players scored in the quarter.

Senior guard Ariel Atkins delivered the dagger to end the period, sinking a midrange jumper at the buzzer to give Texas a commanding 55-41 lead.

Texas went into cruise control in the fourth quarter, slowing the pace en route to the 15-point victory.

The senior backcourt duo of McCarty and Atkins shined in the win. McCarty finished the outing with a team-high 17 points and six assists, while Atkins totaled 15 points and four rebounds.

“I think it’s a combination of them being seniors and having played at this level for almost four years now,” Aston said. “It’s a testament to their hard work. They’re always in the gym, and it’s paying off for them.”

The victory is one of Texas’ most impressive wins on the season, as four different Longhorns scored in double digits — a sign of the team’s depth in the aftermath of Caron-Goudreau’s injury.

“Yesterday in practice, Coach just told us to be ready when our number gets called,” said junior forward Jordan Hosey, one of the team’s biggest boosts off the bench. “We knew we’d need the whole team (today), so when our number got called, we just did what we could do.”

Texas (22–4, 13–2 Big 12) now shifts its focus to a home game against No. 3 Baylor on Monday night. The Bears handed the Longhorns their worst loss of the season on Jan. 25 in Waco, 81-56. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

Freshman pitcher Erica Wright pitched a one-hit shutout in Texas’ 11-0 win on Friday.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

After dropping two of three to Texas Tech last weekend, Texas bounced back to sweep Oklahoma State this past weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Freshman Erica Wright pitched a one-hit shutout to start the series off for Texas (35–14, 10–5 Big 12) to grab an 11–0 victory over Oklahoma State (21–31, 3–13 Big 12) on Friday.

“[Wright] was really just beginning to get into a groove,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I thought her velocity was exceptional tonight, and with her movement, she was locating the ball well.”

On the offensive end, Texas continued to display a solid hitting performance this weekend. Coming into the weekend, Texas had outhit its opponents, .342 to .251, and the team continued to do so against Oklahoma State, outhitting the Cowgirls, .413 to .164.

The Longhorns complemented Wright’s pitching efforts in the first game, connecting on 11 hits, including three home runs.

After junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens and freshman third baseman Randel Leahy hit back-to-back home runs in the first, junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo eagerly joined in on the fun. With bases loaded in the top of the fifth, Ceo blasted a grand slam to left-center, Texas’ sixth of the season, to put the Longhorns in position for another run-rule victory.

“We were ready to hit the field from pitch one, and we were ready to fight,” Ceo said. “All of the preparation at-bat happens in the dugout and once you get out there, you just keep your eye on the ball.”

Sophomore Tiarra Davis took the mound in the second game. Despite battling injury all season, she struck out four and brought her record up to 5–4.

“For Tiarra to get in five innings today from the circle was really exciting,” Clark said. “I don’t know if she had her best stuff physically today, but mentally, that’s as good as I’ve seen her.”

From the plate, Ceo homered again while Stephens and sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning each went 2-for-4 to lead the Longhorns to victory over the Cowgirls, 9–0.

“Man, [Ceo] just saw the ball all weekend and was one of our strongest hitters,” Clark said. “Really happy to get that production from the bottom of the order.”

The third game wasn’t much different. Wright kicked it off with five strikeouts, one hit and two walks in four innings to improve to 16–6. Before the end of the game, senior Gabby Smith and sophomore Lauren Slatten also saw the mound and earned two strikeouts apiece to lead Texas to a 7–2 victory.

“It was a goal today going in to get Gabby and Lauren a little work, and that was accomplished,” Clark said.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty had a career night in Texas’ loss to Oklahoma State. Despite losing four consecutive Big 12 games, the Longhorns are starting to see improvement
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ 66-60 loss to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night stretched its time without a win in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to six years. 

The Cowgirls missed five of their first six shots, allowing for a quick 8-point lead for the Longhorns. But Texas’ struggles with turnovers continued, as it tallied 12 in the first half.

“We had the quick 10 points and then missed three layups in a row,” head coach Karen Aston said.

Aston quickly called a time out when Oklahoma State took its first lead of the game with a little over six minutes left in the first half. With seconds left before the break, Cowgirls senior forward Liz Donohoe made a 3-pointer before Texas freshman guard Brooke McCarty received the inbound pass and put in a 35-foot 3-pointer to shrink Oklahoma State’s halftime lead to 4 points.

“We didn’t have the sense of urgency we needed,” Aston said.

Texas would go on to lose its eighth Big 12 game of the season, and the Longhorns have not yet tallied a road win in conference play. Despite the loss, the Longhorns recorded 36 total rebounds.

Although associate head coach Travis Mays is desperate to start claiming wins again, he is pleased with the increased effort from the Longhorns.

“It’s just hard to see that your team is getting better when you don’t see the wins,” Mays said.

In the back half of the conference schedule, Texas will look to continue communication and adjust after losing senior forward Nneka Enemkpali, Big 12 rebound leader, to a knee injury.  

Texas will return to action against the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday with the hope of finding its first Big 12 road win.

Junior shooting guard Javan Felix was knocked down hard on a screen Saturday against Baylor and will miss Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

After suffering perhaps its most surprising loss of conference play, falling to an unranked Oklahoma State team in Stillwater, Oklahoma, No. 25 Texas will get the opportunity to avenge the loss when they host the Cowboys at the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday. They’ll have to do it without one of their top weapons off the bench: junior guard Javan Felix.

Felix, who averages 10.2 points per game and leads the Longhorns with 36 3-pointers this season, was ruled out for the game with a concussion. A Texas press release issued Tuesday afternoon did not specify when Felix suffered the concussion, but he was visibly shaken up after running into a hard screen from Baylor forward Taurean Prince on Saturday that left him on the floor for the entirety of Baylor’s possession.

Without Felix, who has made at least one 3-pointer in 19 of his 20 games this season, the Longhorns’ already-thin backcourt depth will be tested. Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy, who has only seen more than 12 minutes in a game one time since the start of conference play, will likely see an uptick in minutes behind starting guards sophomore Isaiah Taylor and junior Demarcus Holland.

The injury comes at a difficult time for Texas, when the team is in desperate need of a victory after dropping each of its past three games and five of its past seven to fall to 3–5 in conference play. The Longhorns have struggled to find much rhythm offensively throughout the three-game losing skid, and senior forward Jonathan Holmes said he believes they need to start playing stronger defense to make up for their
offensive inefficiency.

“Offensively, if you’re not making shots, the urgency on defense should be even higher,” Holmes said. “It starts on defense, and we have to go
from there.”

The Longhorns struggled on defense in the second half against Oklahoma State last month, surrendering 41 points after halftime to the Cowboys. Oklahoma State’s senior forward Le’Bryan Nash and junior guard Phil Forte each scored 20 points in the game to give Texas its fourth consecutive loss in Stillwater.

Historically, Texas usually tells a different story when the Cowboys travel to Austin. The Longhorns boast a 26–12 all-time record at home against Oklahoma State, and they’ve won nine of their past 10 matchups against the Cowboys at the Erwin Center.

Still, it will be up to Texas to overcome its recent shooting woes–and the loss of Felix–to continue its success against Oklahoma State and get the season back on track.

“We have to get better,” Holmes said. “That’s the main thing right now. When we’re not shooting the ball well, we have to find a way to win games.”

The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. 

Stock Up: Armanti Foreman

For the first time this season, a receiver other than seniors Jaxon Shipley and John Harris stepped up. Coming into Stillwater, Oklahoma, Foreman had never recorded no more than 12 receiving yards in a  game, but against the Cowboys, the true freshman racked up 74 yards and a touchdown, showing his ability to stretch the field. Texas needs some other receivers to step up and show promise for what appears as though will be a weak receiving corps next season. With his performance Saturday, Foreman showed he has the ability to be one of those guys.

Stock Down: Marcus Johnson

The junior receiver keeps falling further and further down the depth chart. Sophomore Jacorey Warrick and freshman Armanti Foreman both outperformed the junior in the last game and appear ready to overtake him on the depth chart. Johnson needs to earn the trust of sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the next couple games if he wants to be a major factor next year. He is struggling to get by defenders on deep balls, which are supposed to be his strength, and is dropping balls on shorter routes. What a disappointment Johnson has been.

Stock Up: Malcom Brown

The junior defensive tackle was absolutely dominant. It’s nothing new, as he has arguably been the best player for Texas this year. He recorded two sacks and forced a fumble in Stillwater. It was his first multi-sack game since the UCLA game. Most important for him was his ability to stuff the run. He got into the backfield quickly and often, helping limit the Cowboys to just 23 carries for 34 yards. That’s a 1.5-yard-per-carry average. While Brown doesn’t deserve all the credit for shutting down the run, he was certainly the biggest reason for it.

Stock Up: Tyrone Swoopes

Mr. Inconsistency is at it again. After back-to-back 300 yard games midseason, the sophomore appeared to have turned the corner. Then he laid three straight eggs against Kansas State, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Against Oklahoma State, however, he was far and away the best quarterback on the field. He completed 72 percent of his passes — his highest rate of the season — en route to yet another 300-yard game. Unlike his other 300-yard outings, however, he didn’t throw a pick. Another performance like that will give Texas a chance against TCU. But who knows what Texas will get out of Mr. Inconsistency?

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

STILLWATER, OK. — Riding a two-game win streak, the Longhorns are in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys tonight. In a matchup of two desperate teams, the Longhorns will look to get their sixth win of the season and gain bowl elibigbility. Follow here and @texansports on Twitter for live updates and commentary.

9:45 - 4Q 0:00 - Texas 28, Oklahoma State 7 - The Longhorns defeat the Cowboys to earn their sixth win of the season and gain bowl eligibility.

9:27- 4Q 4:31- Texas 28 Oklahoma State 7- Swoopes finds freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman for the 45-yard score.

9:16- 4Q 9:02- Texas 22 Oklahoma State 7- The Cowboys drive 61 yards on 10 plays to avoid the shut out. 

9:02- End of the Third Quarter- Texas 22 Oklahoma State 0- Longhorns force an eighth punt by Oklahoma State. They will start the fourth quarter from their own 26.

8:45- 3Q 7:37  - Texas 22 Oklahoma State 0- Placekicker Nick Rose nails a 44-yard field goal. He has converted on three of his four field goal attempts thus far

8:44- 3Q 9:00- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Swoopes finds freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman for 29-yards on third down for his longest completion of the game thus far.

8:28- 3Q 13:13- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Texas is forced to punt for the first time tonight on its first possession of the half. Oklahoma State starts with the ball at the 50. 

7:58- End of the First Half- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Sophomore safety Dylan Haines intercepts a Daxx Garman pass in the end zone to preserve the shutout. Haines, a former walk-on is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. 

7:54- 2Q 0:43- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Junior placekicker Nick Rose connects from 34-yards out. Texas has scored on four of its first five drives. It has outgained Oklahoma State 263-26 thus far.

7:48- 2Q 2:00- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0- Longhorns force another punt thanks to consecutive sacks. The Longhorns lead the sack battle 3-1 thus far. Since sacks became an official sack, they have never lost to Oklahoma State when they record at least the same number of sacks as the Cowboys.

7:43- 2Q 2:34- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0- Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley nearly hauls in a touchdown but is injured on the play. Junior placekicker Nick Rose misses a 21-yard field goal off of the upright. First time this half the Longhorns fail to score.

7:31- 2Q 8:06- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0: Texas forces the Cowboys to punt for the fourth time this half. Longhorns start the drive at their own 36.

7:23- 2Q 9:33- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0: Junior placekicker Nick Rose connects on a 51-yard field goal. Texas has scored on all three of its possessions and have outgained the Cowboys 174-29 from scrimmage thus far. 

7:12- End of the 1st Quarter- Texas 13 Oklahoma State 0: The Cowboys finally move the ball for positive yards but are forced to punt. Texas opens the second quarter from its own 35, up two scores. 

7:04- 1Q 2:33- Texas 13 Oklahoma State 0: Junior running back Johnathan Gray runs it in from six-yards out to give the Longhorns a two score lead. Gray now has scored five touchdowns in the last three games.

6:55- 1Q 6:31- Texas 6 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns force another punt and start this drive from their own 19. The Oklahoma State offense has run six plays for negative six yards through two possessions. 

6:48-1Q 8:07- Texas 6 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns strike first on a 10 play 57-yard drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Swoopes to senior wide receiver John Harris. The Longhorns do not convert the ensuing PAT. Swoopes has now thrown nine of his 11 touchdown passes in the red zone.

6:44-1Q 9:00- Texas 0 Oklahoma State 0: Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is sacked for an 11-yard loss to the Oklahoma State 30 yard line.

6:39-1Q- Texas 0 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns force a three and out after a sack by junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Longhorns begin the possession from their own 38.

6:33- Texas wins the coin toss and defers to the second half. Oklahoma State will receive the opening kickoff.

Joe Wickline, Texas’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, thought he was done dealing with Oklahoma State administrators in January when he left Stillwater, Oklahoma, to work for Texas. 

But throughout the last eight months, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder has reminded Wickline that the Cowboys aren’t as far away as he thought. 

On Oct. 17, the Oklahoma State System sued Wickline, claiming that he does not actually hold the play-calling responsibilities he claims he does. The suit reiterates complaints dating back to March 24, when Holder wrote Wickline a letter saying Wickline violated his previous Oklahoma State contract.

“Regrettably, it has come to our attention that neither of those statements [about your responsibilities] is apparently accurate,” Holder’s letter said. “In reality, it appears you unilaterally and voluntarily terminated the contract to make a lateral move.”

According to Oklahoma State’s lawsuit this month, Wickline “recognized that the loss of his services to OSU … would cause an inherent loss to OSU incapable of estimation with certainty, fairness or adequate compensation through monetary damages.” 

In their 2009 contract, Oklahoma State said that for Wickline to avoid triggering the obligation to pay liquidated damages — in this case, $593,478 — he must work as an NFL assistant coach or a Division I offensive coordinator, with play-calling duties. In the lawsuit filed last week, Oklahoma State claimed Wickline violated the terms that he must “accept employment as a Head Football Coach or as an Offensive Coordinator with play calling duties.”

The latter clause, “with play calling duties,” is the source of disagreement between Oklahoma State and Wickline. Alhough head coach Charlie Strong said Wickline would call plays at the time of his hire in January, many speculate that Shawn Watson, assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks coach, instead fulfills these responsibilities.

Speculations have stirred ever since Strong’s comments in March, noting that, according to ESPN, “the one final voice will be Shawn.” Interviews with Strong, Watson and players suggest that Watson calls at least the majority of plays while Wickline supervises the run game. This week specifically, Watson discussed scripting plays for the team.

“I’ll only go anywhere from 15 to 25 [plays],” Watson said Tuesday. “Basically, for me, it’s a hot list. This past week, I only used the first 21, and we were on task with what we were doing.”

Watson did not mention Wickline’s role in developing the plays.

Wickline is set to face Oklahoma State in court in Stillwater on Nov. 15, at which time the court will need to determine whether Wickline calls enough plays for his position to qualify as more than just a lateral move. According to the Austin American-Statesman, UT law graduate David Beck, who donates to the University, will represent Wickline.

Brady Sanders drives to the basket in the Longhorns’ 59-46 win over TCU on Tuesday night. Sanders played her most impressive game of the season with eight points and four rebounds. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hit the road one more time this weekend as they head north to Stillwater, Okla., to face Big 12 foe Oklahoma State.

Texas (11-16, 4-12) will face the Cowgirls (19-8, 8-8) for the second time this season as it finishes its last two games of the season.

The last time out the Longhorns beat struggling TCU, which sits at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. Freshmen Empress Davenport and Imani McGee-Stafford led their team with 15 points each while Brady Sanders also stood out with eight points and four assists.

Oklahoma State is coming off a loss against Texas Tech. Despite shooting 51 percent from the floor, the Cowgirls were unable to push past the Red Raiders with their 23 turnovers. Senior Toni Young leads her team with 16.5 points per game along with 10.2 rebounds per game.

The Cowgirls are also second in the Big 12 in both scoring offense (75.1 points per game) and field goal percentage (45.4 percent), second only to Baylor.

Texas faced Oklahoma State in mid-January at home where they lost a 64-52 thriller. The Longhorns were in the midst of a nine-game drought in which they lost their first seven conference games.

Head coach Karen Aston is starting to see her team come together. The young squad is beginning to realize what it takes to win in such a competitive conference.

“They are feeling more comfortable with the expectations of our coaching staff and of the Big 12,” Aston said. “Our freshmen have had way too many minutes for us to be making excuses about mistakes they are making or things that they do wrong. I think they have had way too many minutes to feel that way.”

As the Longhorns round out their season, Aston looks forward to the years ahead, as only one player is leaving after this season.

“They’re all returning,” Aston said. “The bottom line is all of these players are coming back with a world of experience. Their chemistry will be so much better, and they’ll have a better understanding of what we’re doing. I am excited about the future, but I want them to remain focused on what we have left.”

Published on March 1, 2013 as "UT still playing in Stillwater". 

Senior Jeremy Hills avoids a tackle against Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert Saturday night. The Longhorns put together a narrow 41-36 victory over the Cowboys after a fourth quarter drive led by sophomore quarterback David Ash.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

STILLWATER, Okla. — Against Ole Miss, David Ash was good. Against Oklahoma State, Ash was great.

Down by two points with 2:34 left to play, Ash needed to have the drive of his life.  He did just that and led the Longhorns to a 41-36 win over Oklahoma State. On fourth and six on the Texas 29-yard line, he kept Texas alive with a quick pass to D.J. Grant for a 29-yard gain.

Two plays later, he gave Mike Davis a second chance. Earlier in the game, Davis dropped a pass in the end zone. But he caught this one from Ash and gave the Longhorns a first down at the 5-yard line.

“He came to me after he barely missed that deep throw early in the first half,” Ash said. “He said ‘Just give me another chance,’ and I said, ‘All right, I’ll give you another chance,’ and he wasn’t lying. He was ready to make the play.”

Those late game heroics led to Joe Bergeron’s game-winning 2-yard run and a win in their Big 12 opener.

The offense thrived, even without Malcolm Brown, who hurt his ankle on his first touch, but the defense struggled. Without linebacker Jordan Hicks, who missed the game with a hip injury, the defense allowed 576 yards.

Missed tackles by safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Adrian Phillips allowed running back Joseph Randle to score a 69-yard touchdown. Randle ran all over the defense and
accumulated 199 yards.

“We figured they would try to pound it on the ground and that’s exactly what they did,” senior defensive end Alex Okafor said. “At some points we looked bad, at some points we looked great at it.”          

The offense came to the rescue and evened the score on its first drive. Ash hooked up with Jeremy Hills for 15 yards on 3rd-and-14 before finding Jaxon Shipley for a 44-yard touchdown on the next play.

Shipley also had scoring grabs of 20 and seven yards.

“This last week and this week just shows that our receiver core can make plays,” Shipley said. “You can see that from today and so we’re just so excited to go out there and for the offense to depend on us receivers and for us to just be able to come through for the team.”

Against Oklahoma State last season, Ash went 0-for-8 on passes over 10-yards. 

But this isn’t the same Ash.

The Cowboys tied it at 14 with J.W. Walsh’s 44-yard pass to Josh Stewart.  Phillips was injured trying to make a tackle on the play but later returned.

Saturday night was filled with quick responses by both teams.

D.J. Monroe returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, his third career kickoff return for a touchdown, giving the Longhorns a seven-point halftime lead.

Ash threw his first interception of the season when Tyler Johnson picked him off during the third quarter. While he responded well to the turnover, the defense did not.

During the Cowboys’ next drive, Walsh passed to Tracy Moore three times for gains of 23, 19 and 27 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal. Quandre Diggs had two pass breakups on the drive, one of them a touchdown-saving play.

Ash’s third touchdown to Shipley gave the Longhorns a 28-20 lead before Walsh’s 20-yard touchdown pass to John Goodlett. Oklahoma State couldn’t convert on what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion, cutting Texas’ lead to 28-26.

But Randle continued to pick apart the Texas defense and he scored a two-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 33-28 lead.

Bergeron’s one-yard touchdown run put the Longhorns ahead 34-33 after they couldn’t score on the two-point conversion.  Things got tight with 3:14 left when the Cowboys kicked a 24-yard field goal to take a 36-34 lead.

“We told the defense that if you hold them to a field goal, we’ll win the game,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “We told the offense the same thing. They’re going to hold them to a field goal and you’re going to win the game.”

Ash and the offense did just that with last minute heroics. He went 30-for-38 with 304 yards and proved he can be clutch Saturday.  But more importantly, he proved that he that he is ready to command this offense.

Preview

Freshman Myck Kabongo leads Texas in assists (5.2 apg). The Horns and Kabongo are hoping to extend its four-game win streak.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns are going back to Oklahoma this weekend for the second time in five days with a chance to further expand their NCAA tournament resume.

Texas visits Oklahoma State on Saturday looking to extend its four-game winning streak. Texas is fresh off an 11-point win at Oklahoma on Tuesday and will face OSU (12-14) for the second time this season when they meet at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

The Longhorns (17-9) are playing their best ball of the season — and at the right time — with the end of the Big 12 season fast approaching. Texas is in better shape now than it was two weeks ago before rattling off four straight wins. UT sits alone in fifth place in the conference with a 7-6 record and remains on the bubble for an invitation to the program’s 14th straight NCAA tournament appearance.

But Texas still needs at least two more wins to have a chance at an at-large bid.

“I can assure you that nobody is going to talk their way into the NCAA tournament,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “In another two-and-a-half to three weeks, you’re going to have a resume, and you’re either good enough or you’re not.”

The final five Big 12 games on the Longhorns’ schedule include tests against No. 9 Baylor at home on Monday and No. 4 Kansas on the road in the regular season finale on March 3.

“We’ve got enough games to prove that we are good enough,” Barnes added. “And we’ve got a choice to make. If we want to do it, it’s there for us. I think it’s that simple. You’ve got to earn it.”

Still, Texas can’t become content with a four-game streak. There are no guarantees at this point, and each game has more importance than the previous.

“I don’t think we’re there yet, in terms of what we have to do to get where we want to go, until we understand it’s tough,” said Barnes, who has 19 NCAA tournament appearances in 25 seasons as a head coach. “We have to understand the urgency.”

OSU is 5-8 in the Big 12, but the Cowboys are a formidable team at home, where they are 9-3 overall. The Pokes upset then No. 2 Missouri, 79-72, in Stillwater on Jan. 25 but have gone 2-4 since.

“We’ve played well at times and other times we haven’t,” said OSU head coach Travis Ford. “It’s kind of who we are at this point.”

The Longhorns, though, haven’t been defeated since they lost to Mizzou, 67-66, on Jan. 30.

UT has turned its season around with free throws and rebounds. The Longhorns have made 98 of 127 free throws (77.2 percent) and limited opponents to just 63 attempts over the last four games. Texas is also averaging 35 rebounds per game against 29.3 for the competition over that span.

UT has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with OSU, including two straight. The Longhorns are 7-6 in Stillwater under Barnes. 

Printed on Friday, February 17, 2012 as: Second road trip to Oklahoma provides opportunity for win