Longhorns Travel to Hostile Environment

Coaches always like to say that the most important game is the next one. In the case of the Texas basketball team, a squad that is number-hunting for an NCAA Tournament berth, that statement holds especially true.

After its win at rival Oklahoma, Texas sits at 17-6 and 7-6 in the Big 12, just three wins from 20, and a winning record in the Big 12, before the conference tournament starts. To get there, the Longhorns need to take care of business on the road in one of the league's most hostile environments: Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Longhorns have beaten Oklahoma State on the road twice in a row, and 11 of the last 12 contests overall, including a 58-49 victory in Austin earlier this year.

But some things have happened since then, and the Cowboys' sense of urgency could be even greater. Oklahoma State must win all five of its remaining games to finish with a winning conference record, and while that sort of string doesn't seem likely, Oklahoma State did best Missouri in Stillwater about two weeks after losing to the Longhorns in Austin. And three games ago, Oklahoma State grabbed a big home win against Iowa State.

In fact, since Big 12 play started, Oklahoma State has lost just twice at home, once to Kansas State and once to Baylor.

The Cowboys aren't especially good at either side of the court, ranking 99th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 105th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but part of that is because they've played the second-toughest strength of schedule according to Ken Pomeroy. And the Cowboys have some pieces to scare you if you aren't careful.

Keiton Page is the Cowboys' leading scorer, a dangerous player to leave open from behind the three-point line. He's averaging nearly 15 points per contest. The most important player might be Le'Bryan Nash, though.

Like most freshmen, Nash has had an up-and-down first season, though he is scoring 13.2 points and grabbing five rebounds per game. He was exquisite against Missouri, pouring in 27 in an epic performance as the Cowboys pulled away down the stretch. Nash can cause problems because of his size at 6-7 230 for a small forward, as well as his shooting touched and offensive skill set.

Shooting guard Markel Brown is another weapon, ranking third on the team in scoring, third in rebounding and first in assists and steals. Just a sophomore, he continues to improve and was the driving force behind the Iowa State win.

Redshirt freshman Michael Cobbins doesn't have much semblance of an offensive game, but he's 6-8, an excellent leaper and shows great rebounding potential. After a slow start, Cobbins led the Cowboys in rebounds in three of the last four contests, averaging better than eight boards per game over that time period.

Oklahoma State could use more depth, and they were hurt earlier this season when Jean-Paul Olukemi went down. But the Cowboys have shown that they have enough pieces — including Gallagher-Iba Arena — to put a scare into anybody that travels to Stillwater.

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