Saturday, Texas was blitzed by Kansas State so quickly that the Longhorns were effectively done in the first half. Tuesday, the Longhorns returned the favor to a reeling Oklahoma State team, burying the Cowboys beneath an avalanche of three-pointers and gliding to an easy 87-68 win.
"It is nice to come back and play better than we had the last two games, that is what was nice about it," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I thought we had guys who were a little bit more locked in and focused, and really tried to do the things we talked about. We shot the ball really well, obviously, because we took shots.
"The last two games we got too hesitant to shoot the ball, we were dribbling the ball too much," Barnes said. "We did a nice job of just coming back and playing as a team."The Cowboys entered the game two players down from the team that beat Texas 87-74 in Stillwater. Backup guard Stevie Clark was booted from the squad after getting arrested. But by far the biggest deficit facing the Cowboys, who came into the Frank Erwin Center losers of their last four and five of their last six, was returning Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart. Frustrated at the end of the Cowboys' recent loss at Texas Tech, Smart shoved a Red Raider fan, drawing not only a technical foul at the time, but also a three-game suspension.
Texas itself was without leading scorer Jonathan Holmes, who injured his knee against Kansas State, though the Longhorns were able to stomach his loss more easily. In fact, Holmes's replacement, Connor Lammert, helped with the barrage, drilling 3-of-5 three-pointers in his own in that first half.
The biggest spark came from Javan Felix, who scored 16 first-half points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 marksmanship from behind the arc. That, along with a poor shooting half from Oklahoma State, allowed Texas to build a 54-33 halftime lead. For reference, Texas scored just 57 points in Saturday's loss in Manhattan.
Felix finished with 27 points, one shy of his career high, making 9-of-14 from the field and 6-of-8 from three.
"I know I can make those shots and it's just a matter of me taking them," Felix said. "That's something my teammates got on me about, about stoping passing up shots. That's what I tried to do tonight, just take my open looks and get them within the flow of the offense."Isaiah Taylor scored 16 and dropped five assists and Cameron Ridley had 12 points and 13 rebounds, making 10-of-12 shots from the free throw line. Martez Walker scored a career-high 12 points in 18 minutes.
"We were talking about it in practice and we came out playing with intensity," Walker said. "It worked out well for us tonight."
As a team, Texas made 11-of-23 three-point shots.
After a 15-2 start that included a 3-1 Big 12 record, Oklahoma State has faltered to a 16-8 mark with a 4-7 record in conference play. And with the Cowboys facing games against Oklahoma and Baylor without Smart, the future doesn't appear to be too much rosier.
Texas (19-5, 8-3), on the other hand, remains in sole possession of second place in the Big 12, just a game behind Kansas (18-6, 9-2). Texas started Big 12 play 0-2, but has won 8-of-9 since. The Longhorns will stay at home on Saturday, hosting West Virginia, before going on what could be a Big 12-title deciding road trip with games at Iowa State and Kansas.
Texas beat West Virginia in Morgantown 80-69 earlier this season, though the Mountaineers have hit their stride since, winning four of their last five. Tip for Saturday's game is set at 7 p.m.