Full-court press: Texas

Sooners looking for regular season sweep of rival Longhorns

Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2014-15 season.

Texas at (17-8, 6-6) at No. 17 Oklahoma (17-8, 8-5)

When: 8 p.m. CST

TV/Radio: ESPN2/107.7 FM(OKC); 1430 AM (Tulsa); Sirius 91; XM 91

Series: Oklahoma, 70-49

Horns down

Coming off a game against one of its toughest recent Big 12 opponents, Oklahoma gets a shot at a team it has dominated under coach Lon Kruger as much as any other league foe.

Oklahoma has won each of the last three meetings and four of the last five since Kruger took over as Sooners’ coach against Texas, including a dominating 20-point win in Austin earlier this season.

“We just have to play hard, not let them get going, not let them have easy shots or easy buckets are the rim,” Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said.

A victory against Texas on Tuesday will mark just the second time Oklahoma, which had a light practice Sunday, has swept both Oklahoma State and the Longhorns. The Sooners accomplished the feat for the first time in school history last season.

“I think we just respect them,” Ryan Spangler said. “We realize how good they are and how good their bigs are. We worked pretty hard down there. We’ll have to do it again.”

Horns up

Before the season, Texas was the trendy pick to end Kansas’ run of Big 12 regular season titles. Halfway into league play and Texas was staring up at just about everybody in the conference – with just three victories in nine games.

Now, the Longhorns are just two games out of second place in the Big 12, having won three straight.

“They’ve won a few in a row so they’re feeling good about themselves,” Kruger said. “They’re big and physical and talented. They’ve had a couple of tough breaks with injuries and all that. I expect their best shot. I would imagine they’re playing, with three games in a row, as well as they’ve played all year.”

It’s make-or-break for the Longhorns, who play five straight ranked teams starting Tuesday. Texas plays Iowa State and Kansas on the road after a trip to Oklahoma in the next 11 days.

Reproducing dominance

The first time around against Texas, the Sooners captured lightning in a bottle.

Facing one of the best rebounding teams in the country then, Oklahoma outscored Texas, 34-16, in the paint and outrebound the Longhorns by five.

Not much has changed on the Texas side. The Longhorns come into the game second in the nation with a +9.9 rebounding margin.

“The big guys are big targets inside,” Kruger said. “I don’t know if they’ve changed that much. It’s really just a good team.”

The Longhorns bigs have improved since that first meeting, especially 6-foot-11 freshman Myles Turner, who couldn’t help but improve still in the first year of his career.

Oklahoma didn’t show that kind of inside dominance in its latest loss to Kansas State, the second time the Sooners have lost to the Wildcats on a last-seconds shot.

“Big 12 play is hard,” Kruger said. “Everyone is trying really hard. They’re trying really hard, and they’re also really good. You hate to lose, but you’ve gotta bounce back.”

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