The stretch of nail-biters began with the raucous 79-77 overtime win at Providence on January 6 and continued through Tuesdays 75-69 overtime win at preseason Big 12 favorite Missouri. Its all just a regularly scheduled episode of Longhorn basketball.
"Our guys know that its not over until its over," Barnes said. "Weve seen too many crazy things happen. Part of it is the mental preparation of knowing what kind of game were 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 Im 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 Boddickers 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 Boddickers way in the final seconds.
"I couldnt hit anything up until that one (shot)," Boddicker said. "But, you know what? Ill 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.
"Ive never worried about him shooting the ball," Barnes said. "The times when Ive got frustrated with him is when he didnt 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 youre not going to play hard then youre not going to play for this team," Boddicker said. "Weve got guys who are on the bench who are willing and able to step in and play hard. If youre not going to play hard, then dont 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 dont 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 anyones 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. Theyre a good team and weve got to defend our own court."