With Oklahoma's loss to A&M on Saturday the game with Texas on Wednesday night becomes even bigger. Oklahoma doesn't want to fall back below .500 in conference play and the only way to avoid that is to beat the Longhorns.
To help us familiarize ourselves with this year's version of the basketball Horns we've invited one of SBN's best writers to join us for a little Q&A. Peter Bean is the brain trust behind Burnt Orange Nation. Peter is also the person who got me into the SB Nation family. So, even though he writes for the enemy I still have a ton of respect and appreciation for him.
Peter: It is, though perhaps a bit oversimplified. Think of it this way, too: when you've got a player as good as Kevin Durant on your team, you give him the ball over and over and over.
But beyond that, everyone's just a year older. We're more mature, and without a mega-superstar like Durant who dominates every game, we're relying on more contributors.
Damion James initially committed to the Sooners before being released from that commitment and landing in Austin. Tell us about his game and the impact he has had on the team this season.
Peter: He's taken a huge step forward this season for us, developing a solid mid-range game to complement his outstanding athleticism. Last year, he was more of an athlete playing basketball. This year, he's a much more complete player. He's still not quite consistent enough shooting the ball to be NBA ready, but he's Texas' best player at creating his own look.
And he uses his athleticism to rebound like crazy. Great, great player. With room to grow.
How good is Texas at defending the post?
Peter: We're so-so right now; we could do better, that's for sure. Texas A&M was the first team really to push us around near the rim; we've done a solid job against other physical teams with big frontcourts. We can certainly improve, though.
The Longhorns have four players averaging double figures in scoring. With the game on the line whose hands do you want the ball in?
Peter: The ball goes to DJ Augustin, and you hope that he can use his quickness and penetration to create something - if not for himself, than for someone else. He's actually not an elite finisher in those situations yet, but the ability to penetrate and break down a defense is enormous - see Texas' final play against UCLA as an example. Though DJ missed the shot he attempted, Damion James' defender had to leave to help on defense, freeing James for the game-winning slam.
Lets pretend that Rick Barnes calls you to ask for your advice on game planning for the Sooners, what do you tell him?
Peter: Control Griffin, control OU. But I suspect Rick already knows that. The key for Texas is not to settle for jump shots. We struggle when we get bogged down passing around the perimeter; there has to be an inside-out element to the offense or we're just running a haphazard weave along the three point line.