No. 9 Oklahoma set for rematch against No. 12 Texas
Oklahoma’s 80-79 victory over Texas on January 26 in Austin, Texas, staggered the Longhorns.
Texas hung up with then-No. 24 Sooners despite having two starters down, a key backup and his coach, Shaka Smart.
The loss was the first of three straight losses for Texas.
The rematch between the No. 12 Longhorns and No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, will take place on Wednesday, a day later than initially planned, due to inclement weather that is affecting the states of Texas and Oklahoma. .
When teams enter the court, the Longhorns (13-5, 7-4 Big 12) appear to be back on track, having won back-to-back games.
Texas guard Matt Coleman III said the Longhorns returned to form that led them to a 10-1 start.
“Yes. I’ll give you a simple answer: yes,” Coleman said of the revival of Texas confidence. “With the games that are being played, with the practices that we have had, it allowed us to reconnect and focus on each other and understand our circle, that’s what we call it, why we play and the process to win.”
Smart said Coleman and Courtney Ramey, one of the players who missed the first game against the Sooners, were important factors.
“Those guys have to spearhead our defense,” Smart said.
Smart also said Jericho Sims, the other starter who resisted Oklahoma, has played an important role in improving Texas, especially with his aggressive pick and roll.
The Sooners (13-5, 8-4) have won two in a row and seven of their last eight.
His double 91-90 overtime win at No. 14 West Virginia moved the Sooners to second place in the conference behind undefeated Baylor.
The Longhorns are one of three teams within an Oklahoma game in qualifying.
Oklahoma has dealt with its own absences: Brady Manek and Jalen Hill lost time in early January due to COVID-19 protocols, and Austin Reaves and Alondes Williams lost time starting in late January.
Reaves and Manek have been a big part of the Sooners’ last two games.
Reaves has averaged 22 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in his two games back.
“Every team has a guy they look to for their safety and to build confidence in the team. Austin certainly does it for our guys,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “They have a lot of confidence in Austin and he played with a lot of confidence.”
“It was fantastic.”
Manek missed just two games after testing positive for COVID-19, but it took a while to get back into form.
In the past two games, Manek has returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench for five games and is shooting better than 50 percent from the field, taking all of his shots inside the arc.
The game is the first of three this week for Texas, which also plays at Iowa State on Thursday before hosting West Virginia on Saturday. The game against Iowa State was originally scheduled for January 20, but was delayed after the Cyclones were forced to pause team activities due to the COVID-19 protocol.
“It’s more about the mental side and being connected,” Smart said of the biggest challenge. “We are going to focus on that, and then we have to turn the page.”
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.