After being delayed by a day because of snow in the Lone Star State, the no. 9 Oklahoma Sooners and no. 12 Texas Longhorns are set to square off on Wednesday night. At home, the Sooners are listed as slim 1.5-point favorites over Texas, with the over/under for the game set at 141 points.
The Longhorns fell victim to the dreaded COVID bug not too long ago, as they lost three straight games in the midst of having three other games either postponed or canceled. However, Shaka Smart has recovered from what were reportedly severe virus symptoms and has his team back on track. The Longhorns have notched back-to-back wins over Kansas State and TCU, putting them within striking distance of second place in the Big 12.
Currently, Oklahoma is holding onto a distant second place in the Big 12 behind undefeated Baylor. The Sooners won a double-overtime thriller in West Virginia over the weekend, giving them seven wins in their last eight games. At 13-5 overall, Oklahoma appears to be peaking at the right time and could be in the running for a no. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Austin Reaves had the key baskets in the win over West Virginia, finishing the game with 28 points, as he continues to lead the way for the Sooners. The senior is averaging 16.6 points per game while also adding better than five assists and five rebounds every time out. Amidst all of Baylor’s talent, he’s somehow become one of the most underrated guards in the Big 12. Despite not being a great shooter, Reaves excels in every other aspect of the game and was undoubtedly missed in Oklahoma’s recent loss to Texas Tech.
Of course, the Sooners provide Reaves with plenty of help. The trio of De’Vion Harmon, Brady Manek, and Umoja Gibson all average at least 10 points per game. While Oklahoma lacks a true post presence on the offensive end, the 6’9’’ Manek and the team’s bigger guards all contribute in the rebounding department. Meanwhile, Manek and Gibson are both strong outside shooters, making teams pay for helping on Reaves.
The Big Three
Texas has found success this season behind the backcourt trio of Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, and Matt Coleman. All three are averaging at least 12 points per game, with Jones taking the lead. He’s averaging over 21 points per game in the month of February, including 24 points in a recent win over Kansas State. The trio does an incredible job of sharing the basketball with one another and finding the open man with all three capable of knocking down perimeter shots.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns get steady production from their frontcourt players. Freshman forward Greg Brown has had his ups and downs this season, but he’s an impact player who has four double-doubles this season. Brown and senior Jericho Sims are both strong rebounders while 6’11’’ sophomore Kai Jones adds even more size and another capable inside scorer. In fact, Jones had 15 points and 10 rebounds when Texas lost to Oklahoma 80-79 last month.
Bigger in Texas
As mentioned, the Sooners escaped with a 1-point win in Austin last month, although neither team was at full strength. This time around, a deeper backcourt and a taller frontcourt will make a difference for the Longhorns. Bet on Texas to knock off Oklahoma on the road Wednesday night.