No. 20 Oklahoma, Texas battle for position in Big 12
No. 20 Oklahoma and Texas, bunched up in the middle of a tight Big 12 race, enter Saturday's game in Austin seeking to get back momentum and to boost their postseason resumes.
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses. The Sooners fell 74-61 at home to Kansas State in a game the Wildcats controlled from start to finish. The Longhorns lost 80-78 at No. 7 Kansas in a game that was in doubt until the end.
Texas (10-7, 2-3 Big 12) has lost three consecutive games by a combined 11 points. The stretch of close losses has been frustrating for the Longhorns, who are trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out a year ago.
Texas is 2-4 this season in games decided by three points or less. The Longhorns are 3-6 in games decided by six points or less.
"Dang, we could play with the best of them," sophomore point guard Matt Coleman III told reporters after Monday's loss.
"It's about feeding off of this, not taking steps back and taking steps forward and learning from it. Having a growth and positive mindset. We can be here and we can do what we do tonight so we can win these games."
The game is Texas' third in a row against a ranked opponent and the third in a stretch of seven games in which the Longhorns will play six teams that have been ranked in one of the past two polls.
Coleman, in his first five Big 12 games, has 27 assists and just three turnovers. Against Kansas, he had 16 points, eight assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes.
Texas hasn't lost four consecutive games since dropping the final seven regular-season games of the 2016-17 season.
Oklahoma's Christian James said after Wednesday's loss that the Sooners (13-4, 2-3) overlooked the Wildcats. That won't be an issue Saturday.
"Texas is always going to be Texas," James said. "It's always a rivalry. We know they're going to be ready to go, and we're going to be ready to go too. We lost a game that we shouldn't have lost at home."
The Longhorns swept the Sooners last season and have beaten Oklahoma at home in each of the past two seasons. Overall, Texas has won 18 of the last 27 meetings between the teams.
James is coming off a 20-point performance against Kansas State, although 11 of them came in the final four minutes with the game out of hand.
After scoring 20 or more points four times in Oklahoma's first eight games, it was the first time since Dec. 4 that he had scored more than 16.
"I've got to do better," James said. "People are doing a good job of trying to take me away, so I have to do a better job of finding ways to get free and score. But we've got to come out with energy."
Over the last six games, the Sooners have alternated wins and losses.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 18, 2019