Mixing Things Up

Texas coach Rick Barnes felt like he had to mix something up after the Longhorns' latest flat performance against a conference rival. It looks like it worked.

After getting a win with Damion James coming off the bench for the first time in his career, Barnes and the 12th-ranked Longhorns look to build on that victory as they visit Oklahoma in a Big 12 matchup on Wednesday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Oklahoma -2.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Texas +2.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

James, who is averaging a double-double with 13.4 points and 10.5 rebounds, struggled in his last two starts - combining for 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting in a win over Texas Tech and a loss at then-No. 23 Texas A&M.

Perhaps more importantly than his offensive struggles, James wasn't hustling on defense - a discretion most noticeable when the Longhorns (17-4, 4-2) allowed the Aggies to shoot 56.3 percent from the field in Texas' 80-63 loss last Wednesday.

"I told him, 'You know I love ya,'" said Barnes, whose team hasn't looked as sharp in conference play compared to its 13-2 run in non-conference games. "If sitting you down is what it takes to get your attention, it's about holding you accountable. ... Sometimes sitting down is helpful, but he didn't sit for long."

For the first time in 56 career games, James came off the bench on Saturday and had 17 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes to help Texas beat then-No. 25 Baylor 80-72. The Longhorns trailed by as many as 14 early in the first half, but James provided a needed spark as they rallied for their biggest comeback victory of the season.

"He really responded. He was flying around making some athletic plays," Barnes said. "He responded great and there was no reason to sit him down."

Barnes gave no indication if James would come off the bench again when Texas visits Oklahoma (15-6, 3-3), which had its three-game win streak snapped with a 60-52 loss at Texas A&M on Saturday.

David Godbold hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points, but no other Oklahoma player reached double figures in scoring. The Sooners gave up 12 offensive rebounds, including one in the final minute that led to a game-clinching 3-point play.

"Those possessions are just about wanting it more and down the stretch," Sooners forward Blake Griffin said. "You could tell that they wanted it more and that's why they kept getting second-chance points."

Griffin was held to six points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes after averaging 21.3 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 62.2 percent from the field in his last four full contests - not including a game in which he only played five minutes before leaving with a knee injury.

Oklahoma has lost eight of its last 11 games against Texas, including three straight - each by at least 10 points. The Sooners, though, are a respectable 3-4 against ranked teams and meeting a Top 25 team on their homecourt for the first time.

They're 10-2 at Lloyd Noble Center, where they're shooting 49.7 percent. Away from home, Oklahoma is 5-4 and shooting 43.0 percent.

The Sooners will have a much better shot at pulling off the upset if Godbold can continue his hot streak from beyond the arc. The senior guard is shooting 43.2 percent (16-for-37) from 3-point range in his last seven games after connecting on only 23.3 percent (10-for-43) in his first 14.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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