Finding a team willing to compete against the Longhorns (23-3, 11-0 Big 12) isn't a problem. Finding a squad that can keep a game competitive is. The Cowboys (16-9, 4-7) were only the latest conference victim to fall prey by double-digits, with the Longhorns besting 10 of their 11 league foes by double-digits. The one exception? A near miss, 9-point victory over Baylor.
Once again, the Longhorns continued their magic streak of failing to fall behind an opponent. Texas hasn't trailed since its last victory over the Cowboys, seven games ago, a span of more than 264 minutes.
"Our biggest concern is trying to keep our foot on the pedal," said senior forward Gary Johnson. "Obviously we haven't been in a situation like that where we've been behind, so we don't want to start it right now."
Still, the Longhorns didn't run off and hide in this one early, taking just a 19-15 lead in the early going. But then Texas went on a 14-4 run to take a 33-19 advantage just before halftime, with the Longhorns settling for a 36-25 advantage despite losing the rebounding battle and the points-in-the-post stat by handy margins.
The Cowboys were worse in other areas, shooting slightly behind Texas's pace (38.5 to 35.5) while committing 12 first-half turnovers and sending the Longhorns to the line a whopping 19 times (the Cowboys themselves went just four times in the half). That Texas only made 11 of those shots was largely irrelevant — in a game the Cowboys trailed by 11, the difference in made free throws accounted for 10 points of that edge.
"That is a bad combination right there, a very poor combination," Ford said. "We weren't allowing our half court defense, which had been pretty good lately, to really take effect because we were fouling and we allowed too many fouls in transition."
Oklahoma State was also unable to make anything of several run-outs in the half, with those fast-breaks yielding zero fast-break points.
The second half only got worse for the Cowboys. The Longhorns held their opponent without a field goal for 5:19 in the second half, using that time to boost the lead to 24 points at 60-36. Meanwhile, the Texas offense began firing again, with the Longhorns shooting better than 48 percent for the half, nearly 10 percent better than Texas shot in the first half. The Cowboys, for their part, finished with a higher percentage at 40 percent, but were undone by their cold streak and an inability to get key stops on the Texas offense.
Johnson led all scorers with 17 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds to go with it.
"He's improved in so many different areas, but obviously when he first got here he was a five-feet-in … post player; it's what he always did," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "He's put as much time in, improving his range, he's a real worker. Over the years he's put as much time as anybody we've had here."
Jordan Hamilton helped the Longhorns boost to their early lead and finished with 15 points and six rebounds, albeit on 4-for-13 shooting. Tristan Thompson (14) and Cory Joseph (11) also scored in double-digits, though they shot a combined 8-for-22. Thompson was just 6-13 from the free throw line.
"Give Texas credit, we just got beat by a better team tonight," Ford said. "They are a very good basketball team and are deserving of everything people have been saying about them, their rankings and things like that."
With Texas's win and Kansas's loss earlier this week, the Longhorns lead the Jayhawks by two games with five games remaining in conference play. Texas is next in action on Saturday, at Nebraska. Game time is set for 12:45 p.m.