Texas hosts Oklahoma State in must win

The Texas Longhorns are hemorrhaging and in need of a tourniquet. Losers of three straight Big 12 games and now sitting at 4-4 at the midway point on the conference schedule, Tuesday night's game against Oklahoma State is a must win in the true sense of the word with zero room for error.

The Texas Longhorns went into the Nebraska game Saturday searching for answers and boarded the plane home without a single one. Tuesday night in Austin, the Longhorns will host the Oklahoma State Cowboys with the season on the line. Having already dropped two home games in Big 12 play, Texas simply must win their remaining home games.

The Longhorns (15-7, 4-4) enter Tuesday night losers of three straight games. There hasn't been a Texas team that has lost four games in a row since the beginning of the Rick Barnes era in 1998-99.

The Cowboys roll into Austin having lost three of the last four with the only victory being an 81-80 win in Stillwater in comeback fashion over Texas Tech.

The Cowboys are playing the most up-tempo of any team in the Big 12 under first year head coach Travis Ford. The Big 12 South member is averaging 83.2 points per game featuring a four guard starting line-up in which each player averages more than 14 points per game.

The top scorer for Oklahoma State is 6-5 sophomore James Anderson. Anderson excels going left off the bounce and also knocks down 41.6% from three.

Damion James, the 6-7 junior forward who is averaging 15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, leads the Longhorns. James is coming off of a double double in the loss to Nebraska, but settled for too many 19-22-foot jumpers on Saturday with three coming too quick and without backside rebounders in position.

Texas and Oklahoma State have played 73 times to date with the Longhorns holding a 39-34 advantage. Texas has won the last five.

The game is set to tip-off at 7pm central and will be televised by the Big 12 network.

A Look at the Coaches

Rick Barnes, who is in his eleventh season at Texas, coaches the Longhorns. Barnes has a career record of 464-234, including 260-99 at Texas. Barnes is 124-44 in Big 12 games at Texas.

Travis Ford is in his first season at Oklahoma State and ninth as a head coach at the D-I level. He has a career record of 127-123.

A Look at the Numbers

Texas shoots 43.2% from the field, 31.4% from three and 65.4% from the free throw line.

The Cowboys convert 45.8% overall, 39.5% from the three point line and 74.0% from the foul line.

The Longhorns surrender just 39.4% shooting and own a +5.2 rebound advantage.

Oklahoma State surrenders 44.3%% defensively and checks in with a -2.7 rebounding margin.

The Longhorns are committing 12.6 turnovers per game, while Oklahoma State is turning the ball over 13.0 times per contest.

The Longhorn Starters

G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (6.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists)

G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (16.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists)

F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals)

F Gary Johnson 6-6 So. (11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks)

F Connor Atchley 6-11 Sr. (5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks)

Key reserves include 6-10 junior Dexter Pittman (9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds), 6-1 freshman Varez Ward (3.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists), 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman (1.76rebounds), 6-0 sophomore Dogus Balbay (1.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists) and 6-10 sophomore Matt Hill (1.5 rebounds).

The Cowboy Starters

G Byron Eaton 5-11 Sr. (14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals)

G Terrel Harris 6-4 Sr. (14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals)

G James Anderson 6-5 So. (16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists)

G Obi Muonelo 6-5 Jr. (14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists)

F Marshall Moses 6-6 So. (5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds)

Key reserves are 5-10 Keiton Page (9.5 points and 1.4 assists) and 6-8 senior Anthony Brown (3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds)

What to Watch For

The Longhorns have to guard the three-point line against a Cowboys team that knocks down 39.5% from long range.

If James Anderson has the ball on the perimeter, force him right. Anderson looks to go left at a much higher rate than most right-handers and only puts the ball going right to get into a jump shot. If Texas can force him right and force an extra bounce or two, Anderson often gets into a situation in which he turns the ball over or takes a very tough shot.

Obi Muonelo has to be blocked out and for a full second longer than most players. Muonelo is very strong and is tough to get a body on and then keep on the back of a defensive rebounder.

The up-tempo style has been a huge benefit to Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris. Both players play with active hands and combine to average 4.2 steals per game. Harris understands how to use his length to his advantage as well.

On Saturday, Texas began the game with a number of early turnovers playing against a team that wasn't skilled enough on offense to take advantage. Against the Cowboys, turnovers are often times turned into run outs and transition scoring chances against a team full of finishers and three-point threats in transition.

Texas has to work to get up as many 12-15 foot shots as possible in the half court and pound the offensive glass. The shots must be taken with rebounders in position to use the height, strength and length advantage. Against Nebraska in the second half, Texas didn't accomplish that goal and took too many quick, bad shots without their best offense (offensive rebounding) in position to take advantage.

Oklahoma State forward Marshall Moses and Anthony Brown are both sub 63% free throw shooters and must be fouled hard if they put up a shot around the basket. Make them earn every point from the foul line.

Gary Johnson, if defended by Obi Muonelo, should be posted up and given the ball plenty early in the game. Muonelo often rebounds alone and putting him on the bench would be a mighty blow for the Cowboys. Johnson can't settle for fall away jumper though and must get into Muonelo's chest and work towards the rim.

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