The Big XII continues to hold the title of toughest conference in the nation. As the season quickly comes to a close, a few programs look to eclipse the 20-win mark and punch their ticket to the Big Dance. The Texas Longhorns as well as the Oklahoma Sooners are two of those squads and will clash in Norman on Tuesday evening. After looking the part of a top ten program, the Longhorns fell from the rankings with a four game skid. Now riding a three game winning streak heading into the Red River Rivalry, here are three questions Texas must answer if they hope to pull out a road win.
Can Rick Barnes Earn Wins Over Ranked Opponents?
After an embarrassing loss in Austin to the Sooners earlier this year, Coach Barnes made a few changes leading to an impressive win over a ranked West Virginia team. However, the next three ranked opponents solved the riddle leading to more changes from the Longhorns. To date, Texas has recorded a single win over a ranked opponent. On Tuesday, in a hostile environment, UT has yet another opportunity to earn a win over a top twenty-five team.
Which Defense Will The Longhorns Deploy?
Moving to a zone defense, Texas held the Mountaineers to 24.1% shooting from the floor. They would follow up the performance by holding TCU to 33.3% shooting as all appeared to be going well for the Longhorns. There's no denying the athleticism and length on the Texas roster which ultimately leads to a stingy zone. However, when meeting up with a quality shooting team like the Cyclones, everything fell apart as ISU shot 54.7% from the floor.
Oklahoma brings speed combined with the ability to move the ball and knock down shots from around the perimeter. It's all about match-ups if Barnes hopes to stop guys like Buddy Hield and Ryan Spangler. Will the coach choose to utilize the length of his defenders or play man-to-man?
Who Will Carry The Load Against A Tough Defense?
A quick look at the stat sheet reveals the notion that Isaiah Taylor has not been his usual self against lesser opponents in the past two games. A six point average over those two games is a far cry from his seasonal average of 13.3 per game. Heading into a rivalry, the Longhorns must produce and it starts with Taylor who has the potential to drop 20+ on any given night. If the sophomore guard isn't up to the task, can a guy like Javan Felix step up and fill the void?