Cardiac Horns Face Ranked Teams In OSU, Tech

&quot;Survivor&quot; has got nothing on the Texas men&#146;s basketball team. Hey, my new &quot;American Idol&quot; is <B>Royal Ivey</B>. There&#146;s no &quot;Fear Factor&quot; in the senior guard. Lately, &quot;must see&quot; TV (at least in terms of NCAA hoops action) has been all about the No. 14/16 Longhorns.

A pair of overtime wins (including a buzzer-beater), a game won in the last two seconds, plus a thumping of then undefeated Wake Forest, but now the season gets interesting. Head coach Rick Barnes bunch now face a pair of nationally ranked teams: No. 24/25 Oklahoma State comes calling 3 p.m. (CST) Saturday before the Horns travel to No. 18 Texas Tech, 6 p.m. (CST) on an ESPN ‘Big Monday’ telecast.

The stretch of nail-biters began with the raucous 79-77 overtime win at Providence on January 6 and continued through Tuesday’s 75-69 overtime win at preseason Big 12 favorite Missouri. It’s all just a regularly scheduled episode of Longhorn basketball.

"Our guys know that it’s not over until it’s over," Barnes said. "We’ve seen too many crazy things happen. Part of it is the mental preparation of knowing what kind of game we’re going to be in."

The biggest part of it, of course, has been Ivey. The New York City native hit the three-point shot that sent the Providence game into OT, nailed the fade-away jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining to beat Nebraska Saturday, and then scored 10 of his career-best 24 points in OT at Missouri.

"I want to feel like I’m the go-to guy, just doing what I do and playing my role," said Ivey, whose game has flourished since logging more minutes at the No. 2 guard rather than running the point.

But it was senior F Brian Boddicker’s trey that sent the Missouri game into the extra session. In that one, Tiger C Arthur Johnson blocked an Ivey FG attempt only to have the ball bounce Boddicker’s way in the final seconds.

"I couldn’t hit anything up until that one (shot)," Boddicker said. "But, you know what? I’ll do it like that every time for the rest of the season if we keep winning these games."

Throughout the season, Barnes has commended Boddicker for his "basketball I.Q." but criticized the McDonalds All-American for occasional mental lapses.

"I’ve never worried about him shooting the ball," Barnes said. "The times when I’ve got frustrated with him is when he didn’t take care of the ball, or not get rebounds or not play defense. When Boddicker is on top of that part of it, we become a darn good team."

Following the game, Barnes said, "effort is non-negotiable" for his hard-nosed Horns. The message got across to Boddicker.

"It means this team is so deep that if you’re not going to play hard then you’re not going to play for this team," Boddicker said. "We’ve got guys who are on the bench who are willing and able to step in and play hard. If you’re not going to play hard, then don’t bother to step on the court."

On paper, the Cowboy game looks like a wild west shootout pitting the two squads that lead the league in scoring (Texas 87 ppg; OSU 78.5 ppg). Oklahoma State also boasts the top FG percentage in the Big 12 (452-of-873, 51.8 percent).Yet don’t be surprised if the pace resembles that of the low-scoring, blue-collar Nebraska game as the Cowboys are second only to the Huskers in scoring defense (60 ppg).

If anyone’s counting, Texas now owns a 25-game home win streak dating back to 2002 when the Horns were upset at home by, uh-huh, Oklahoma State.

"We beat them up in Stillwater and then they came down and beat us," Ivey recalled. "After the game they carried (OSU coach) Eddie Sutton on their shoulders. It was a dejected feeling. They’re a good team and we’ve got to defend our own court."

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