College Basketball: Texas at Oklahoma - Texas Favored
The 19th-ranked Longhorns (20-7, 10-3) look to continue their push for the Big 12 title when they visit Oklahoma on Saturday.
Despite starting four freshman and a sophomore, Texas has gotten hot at the right time, winning its last four games to move into third place in the conference, one game behind co-leaders Kansas and Texas A&M. The Longhorns close out the regular season against those teams, hosting the No. 8 Aggies on Wednesday before visiting the sixth-ranked Jayhawks next Saturday.
Texas hammered Texas Tech 80-51 on Monday to keep pace with the teams in front of it, as each Longhorns starter scored in double figures. A.J. Abrams had 18 points while Kevin Durant added 17 against the Red Raiders, whom Durant burned for 37 points and 23 rebounds in the first meeting between the schools.
"We all realize it's late in the season and we're trying to play every game like it's our last game," Abrams said. "We have to keep things in perspective and we still have to worry about these next few games coming up."
The Longhorns extended their school-record streak of 20-win seasons to eight despite not having a 20-point scorer for the first time this season. It didn't matter, as Texas led by 22 at halftime and held Texas Tech to 28.8 percent shooting, the Longhorns' best defensive effort since limiting Alcorn State to 23.8 percent in a 103-44 season-opening victory.
The Longhorns are also proving they don't need Durant to have a huge game to be successful. After scoring at least 30 points in six of his first eight conference games, the dynamic freshman hasn't scored more than 21 during the winning streak.
"We never started out the season saying Kevin Durant had to score 30 points," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "He got on a roll there where he was doing it, but he's not out there trying to do that every game. He's willing to pass and share the ball.
"I don't think you can look at us being a young team now. We've played 27 games and these guys have seen a lot of different things and adjusted."
Texas has won three of its past four away from home and is 45-25 in Big 12 road games under Barnes, the second-best conference road record over the past nine seasons.
After winning four straight to put themselves in contention for the postseason, the Sooners (15-11, 6-7) have lost three in a row by a combined 18 points.
Oklahoma rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to take the lead against Missouri on Tuesday night, but was never up by more than a point and lost 72-68.
"We feel like we had a chance to win at the end," said Michael Neal, who had 18 points. "We didn't make plays, I didn't make my free throws."
The Sooners went 1-for-3 from the free-throw line in the final minute to negate a fine 3-point shooting effort. Oklahoma was 11-for-24 from behind the arc, matching its season high for 3-pointers made.
Oklahoma - 12-2 at home - has lost six of seven games against ranked opponents this season, including an 80-69 defeat to then-No. 25 Texas on Jan. 13. Durant had 28 points and 13 rebounds in that victory for the Longhorns, their second straight over the Sooners and seventh in the last 10 games between the teams.
Oklahoma, though, is 21-7 at home against Texas and leads the series 45-23.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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