Texas tangos with Oklahoma as season winds down

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It’s never an easy road for a team to make it to the NCAA Tournament, but the Longhorns have chosen an exceptionally difficult route to make the Big Dance this season.

With its 5-10 Big 12 record, Texas sits in eighth place and is in line for a first round matchup with either Texas Tech or Oklahoma State in the Big 12 conference tournament, which starts March 7.

But first, the Longhorns have a regular season to finish before they set their sights on Kansas City, Mo. and the conference tournament.

The final three games include a home matchup against Oklahoma on Saturday, a trip to Columbia, Mo. to face Missouri and the season finale against Texas A&M in Austin on March 4.

Both the Sooners and the Aggies have enjoyed successful seasons and currently sit in a tie for second place in the Big 12 standings. Missouri has been virtually silent in conference play, with its sole win coming on the road last Saturday against Kansas.

Oklahoma has played a difficult schedule this year but still owns wins over four ranked opponents so far. The first matchup between the Sooners and the Longhorns was a closely contested game, but the Sooners emerged victorious, 73-67 in Norman, Okla. on Jan. 21. The Sooners turned the ball over 21 times, but shot 62 percent from behind the 3-point line.

The Sooners guard play was on display in this game as the Sooner guards tallied 14 assists on 23 made baskets. In contrast, the Longhorns assisted on just seven of their 22 made baskets. If the Longhorns can disrupt the passing lanes and convert on more of their field goals they definitely can hang tight with the Sooners again.

Three wins would likely put the Longhorns around the middle of the pack in the Big 12 standings, which could mean a first-round bye in the conference tournament. This would be crucial to the Longhorns’ postseason run due to the tournament being played on four consecutive days. If Texas were to sneak in to sixth place it would receive a bye and face either Oklahoma or Kansas State.

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Final conference matchups are vital for NCAA tourney