Ready to rope the 'Horns

The No. 9 Cowboys will have a real test Saturday. And this one -- isn't so much multiple choice as it is a pass-fail exam of the sorts. With a win over No. 3 Texas, OSU can show the world -- it isn't just hype.

As the Oklahoma State basketball team carried coach Eddie Sutton off the court last year in Austin, celebrating the coach's 700th victory, the Cowboys had just won the biggest game of the season.

A year later, OSU's biggest game still sits in south Texas. When the Cowboys take on UT (13-3, 4-1) at 3 p.m. on Saturday, an undefeated conference schedule and a 15-game winning streak will be on the line.

Although OSU (17-1, 6-0) won in Austin last season, knocking off the No. 3 Longhorns this season will be a challenge. Kansas beat UT 90-87 Monday night, but playing at home and away are two different things.

"Texas is the best team in our league," Sutton said. "Kansas beat them, but it took Collison to hit 24 (points) and 23 (rebounds), Heinrich to hit 25 (points), and the great Kansas crowd.

"You put Texas on a neutral floor, and they're going to beat everybody most of the time. Texas is not only the best team in our league right now. I'm not saying they will be at the end of year, and they may not win the conference, but they're one of the 10 teams that, in my opinion, has got a chance to go to the Final Four."

Texas features a strong frontcourt that averages eight more rebounds than the competition, with James Thomas averaging 11.3 rebounds and 10.3 points a game. UT is deep in talent, with point guard T.J. Ford leading the Longhorn offense. Ford, as a sophomore, averages 14.6 points.

"Rick told me that of all the teams he's had at Clemson, Providence and Texas, this is by far and away the best team," Sutton said. "They're the deepest team. They've got the best point guard, in my opinion, in college basketball.

"And if you watch them play day-in and day-out — I've looked at a lot of film — they are really good. That's not to say that Oklahoma can't beat them, or we can't beat them, or Tech can't beat them. But right now, the way they're playing, I think it's going to take a real effort on the part of some teams to edge them out for the conference championship."

One of the keys for OSU will be in staying with the Longhorns' physical style of play. Production from inside players like the Cowboys' Andre Williams will be a big key for OSU.

"We just know it's going to be a physical game going in," Williams said. "Every time we play Texas, that's how it is when we play them. Everybody's going to go all out.

"We know they're going to come in and go at us hard, and we've got to go in and match their intensity and see if we can come out with a ‘W.'"

When taking on a team like Texas, many things have to happen for another OSU win. Among others, shortening the length of the game will be a big Cowboy key.

OSU is playing a Longhorn squad that has more advantages, and giving UT fewer chances to score will even the playing field a little. Against Iowa State, coach Larry Eustachy tried to hold the ball longer against the Cowboys.

"To beat Texas, you've got to contain Ford, you've got to at least play even with them on the boards. You've got to minimize your turnovers. Then you've got to take good shot selection, and you want to try to shorten the game a little bit.

"That's what Larry did tonight, and that was smart. When they had the ball, they tried to shorten the game."

After the Longhorn loss to KU, the Cowboy players are sure they will get UT's best shot.

"We know it's not going to be easy," said Melvin Sanders. "And we're pretty sure you guys watched that game against KU.

"Nobody really plays KU that tough at home, so I know they will be looking to get a win. So, we're going to try to go down there and take one from them."



Official university releases:

Oklahoma State

University of Texas

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