Oklahoma State has shown a lot of positives in recent weeks but after a pair of lopsided losses on the road against Kansas and Missouri, Gallagher-Iba Arena will serve as a welcome sight for the Cowboys Saturday afternoon. In addition to the good feeling of being home, the Cowboys would also like to get back on the winning side of things. The Cowboys (12-14, 5-8 Big 12) play host to the Texas Longhorns (17-9, 7-6) who are on a four-game winning streak at 3 p.m. on ESPN2 in Stillwater. OSU lost the previous meeting this season in a low scoring 58-49 affair in Austin on Jan. 7.
1) The Cowboys hold a 7-6 advantage against the Longhorns in Stillwater in the Rick Barnes' era at UT but the ‘Horns have won 11 of the past 12 meetings overall. The last win for OSU in the series came on Feb. 28, 2009, when Travis Ford's Cowboys beat No. 24 Texas 68-59 in Stillwater.
2) The Cowboys have to avoid another poor start to have a shot against the Longhorns. In the Poke's back-to-back losses, they have fallen behind by 29 against KU and 35 against Missouri. OSU played Texas to a tie at halftime in Austin in the teams' first meeting.
3) Usually turnovers are a pretty easy thing to point to when a team loses, especially in a lopsided manner, but that hasn't been the case with OSU the past two games. The Cowboys committed just six turnovers in each game, including a zero turnover second half against Kansas.
4) Getting quality minutes of Philip Jurick will be pivotal. Michael Cobbins has done an admirable job in the absence of the 6-foot-11 big man but OSU will need productive minutes from Jurick off the bench against Texas. The Longhorns are not a dominant rebounding team with a plus-4.1 rebounding margin, good for sixth in the Big 12, but OSU is dead last in the league at minus-5 per game, or 314th in the country. Jurick is taller than any player in Texas' rotation and his presence on the boards and in the defensive interior would make a huge difference.
5) This is an off-the-court matter but one worth mentioning. Seniors Keiton Page and Darrell Williams were both named first-team academic all-conference on Thursday by the Big 12. Page, a physical education major, made the team for the second year in a row. Williams is a university studies major and is sitting out the season because of legal issues.
1) There might not be a team in the conference that relies as heavily on the play of one player as Texas does with J'Covan Brown. Brown is the leading scorer in the Big 12 — and ranks 17th nationally — with 19.7 points per game. OSU did a good job on him last time in limiting him to six points. This is the likely defensive assignment for Markel Brown.
2) This has been a down year for Texas but it is in a bit of an upswing as of late. After losing five out of six conference games, the Longhorns have rebounded to win four straight; three of which have come by double digits.
3) One of the major reasons for Texas' surge the past four games has been the improved play of Sheldon McClellan. McClellan has averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds over the past four games and has done it efficiently on 49 percent shooting.
4) If OSU is to beat Texas, it would be wise to keep the ‘Horns off the free throw line. That is easier said than done. Texas has thrived off getting to the stripe and also excelled at keeping its opponents off it. In the past two games, Texas has shot 77 free throws (making 59 of them) and its opponents are just 13-for-20 from the line. In the win against Oklahoma, Texas shot 29 free throws against the Sooners' eight.
5) Texas may be sporting nine losses heading to Stillwater but it has come against stiff competition. Six losses have come against Top 25 teams with five of those coming against Top 10 opponents. Seven of the nine losses have come by six points or less.
F Le'Bryan Nash (6-7, 230, Fr., 13.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
F Michael Cobbins (6-8, 220, Fr., 5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
G Brian Williams (6-5, 205, Fr., 8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
G Keiton Page (5-9, 165, Sr., 14.8 ppg, 2.3 apg)
G Markel Brown (6-3, 190, So., 10.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
C Clint Chapman (6-10, 245, Sr., 7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
F Alexis Wangmene (6-7, 241, Sr., 4.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
G Julien Lewis (6-3, 190, Fr., 7.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G J'Coven Brown (6-1, 197, Jr., 19.7 ppg, 3.9 apg)
G Myck Kabongo (6-1, 169, Fr., 9.9 ppg, 5.2 apg)
Texas has caused a lot of headaches for the Cowboys in recent years and hasn't lost in GIA since Ford's first year at the helm in Stillwater. The Cowboys have fared far better at home than they have on the road this season but the Longhorns have long been a thorn in their side. In order to pull out a win in front of the home fans, OSU cannot sputter for stretches in the first half like they have the past two games and must keep Brown and Kabongo under control. Expect OSU to make a close game out of it and possibly pull it out but the ‘Horns have been on a roll lately. Prediction: Texas 72, OSU 68