AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns needed a streak snapper Saturday after two straight conference losses dampened the expectations around the program.
Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State won’t be archived among college basketball’s best games, but Texas clawed its way to a 56-51 win. It was only the seventh of an 18-game grind of a conference schedule, and it felt like a game the Longhorns couldn’t afford to lose.
For most of the first half, it looked like the Cowboys’ defense was going to befuddle the Longhorns into another home loss. Texas trailed 27-25 at halftime after starting the game on a 13-0 run.
Texas regrouped at halftime to regain the lead in the first minutes after the break. The Longhorns had a nine-point lead with just under six minutes to play and fought off an OSU comeback with four key, free throws in the final minute. Texas (14-5, 4-3) is fourth in the Big 12 standings with the win.
Style points don’t matter. Just win.
No. 23 Texas dropped a road game at Iowa State last weekend and suffered an eyebrow-raising defeat at home to Kansas State Tuesday.
The schedule ahead looks daunting for Texas. After a trip to TCU during the week, the Longhorns host Rick Barnes and Tennessee in the Big 12-SEC challenge next Saturday at 7 p.m. Texas will face four straight ranked opponents over the following two weeks — headlined by a road game in Lubbock for Chris Beard’s first game back at Texas Tech.
3 keys to a Texas win
First half runs
Texas started hot, playing as the more physical team in the first five minutes. The Longhorns built a 13-0 lead before an awful stretch of offensive basketball. Texas didn’t score a point for over 10 minutes as the Cowboys went on their own 16-0 run for the lead. Marcus Carr’s 3-pointer stopped the drought, helping Texas snap the cold spell.
Second half defense
Texas started strong in the second half — even if the offense wasn’t clicking. Oklahoma State missed its first seven shots and turned the ball over three times as Texas got ahead on the scoreboard.
Marcus Carr wasn’t at his shooting best, but he made the difference from the free throw line. Carr led the Longhorns with 14 points, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line.