Friday, March 03, 2006

Sooners Going for South Sweep Against Texas

Thanks to a dumb-dumb like mistake by PJ Tucker and a clutch three point shot by Acie Law the Sooners suddenly have a chance to claim a part of the Big 12 regular season title. All Oklahoma needs to do is cheer for Kansas State to beat Kansas on Saturday and then take care of Texas themselves on Sunday.

After you pick yourself up off the floor and quit laughing keep in mind that the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence in January and OU has already beaten Texas once this season. So while the scenario is a long shot it is still possible. Even if the Jayhawks beat Kansas State then OU can still finish second in the conference with a win over Texas.

So, how do you beat Texas? The Sooners are one of the Big 12 teams to know the magic formula. OU beat the Longhorns 82-72 just over a month ago. While some Texas fans will say the Sooners just got lucky that night, I say they did exactly what they needed to do.

Here are the keys to beating the Longhorns.

Out Hustle Them. The Sooners can beat Texas on the boards and to loose balls. In their loss to Oklahoma State the Longhorns were completely out hustled and subsequently blown out. While the Longhorns may be the most talented team in the Big 12 they also have spurts when they act lazy and it has cost them.

An aggressive team can take Texas out of their game and the Longhorns have shown that once that happens they struggle to get back on track.

Out Muscle Them. I hate to say this but like their football teams in years past Texas plays soft! Against Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas A&M the Longhorns struggled against physical play by big guys inside. There is not a more physical big man in the conference than OU’s Kevin Bookout. It takes a day and a half to go around him and you will die if you try to go through him.

When a team plays physical against Texas it again takes them out of their game and also causes frustration fouls.

Let Aldridge have his. In the first meeting LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points but the Longhorns lost by 10. The reason why? Because Oklahoma didn’t double team Aldridge and leave PJ Tucker and Daniel Gibson with uncontested shots. Tucker only got off 9 shots and while Gibson did score 23 points he did it on a 6 for 17 shooting performance which means he left 21 rebounds up for grabs. In fact Aldridge and Tucker were the only Texas players to shoot above .500.

I’m a firm believer that one man can’t beat you but that a team can. Don’t sacrifice the perimeter to keep Aldridge from scoring. He’s going to score anyway so play tough physical in-your-face defense all around and let the cards fall where they may. It worked once.

Don’t Get Intimidated by the Crowd. It will be senior day for Texas and the Longhorn crowd will want to send their two seniors off with a win over their hated rival Oklahoma. While playing at The Erwin Center can be tough is it any tougher than Villanova, Kansas or Oklahoma State? I say no and with the Sooners having already played in those three venues they should be ready for what Texas fans have to offer.

The bottom line is that Texas is favored, as they should be, but Longorns head coach Rick Barnes has his work cut out for him. Not only will he need to find a way to prevent the physical frustrations the Sooners caused last time he will also need to find an answer for Taj Gray and Terrell Everett. They went off for 22 and 25 points respectively and will pose match-up problems as of their own because Bookout will provide inside help and sharp shooter Michael Neal needs you to look away for just a second before he kills you with a three.

The Sooners have swept every south school so far with Texas being the only team left. A win on Sunday would make OU a perfect 10-0 against teams from the South.

Big 12 Men's Basketball Standings
Texas 12-3 24-5
Kansas 12-3 21-7
Oklahoma 11-4 20-6
Texas A&M 9-6 19-7
Colorado 8-7 18-8
Nebraska 7-8 17-11
Kansas State 6-9 15-11
Iowa State 6-9 16-12
Texas Tech 6-9 14-15
Oklahoma State 5-10 15-14
Missouri 4-11 11-15
Baylor 4-11 4-11