The Oklahoma Sooners travel south of the Red River to take on the much improved Texas Longhorns. With a win over North Carolina and losses sprinkled throughout the non-conference portion of the schedule, not many knew what to expect from Shaka Smart's first season as head coach. Certainly, not many thought this group could earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. But, here they are standing just two wins shy of the 20-win mark. It may be unofficial at this point but the Longhorns appear to be a lock for the post season.
With the departure of Myles Turner, all eyes turned toward Cameron Ridley to carry the load in the paint. Having an impact year, Ridley went down midway through the season leaving a void. Yet, UT continued to endure. Wading through a rough patch recently. Texas dropped three of their past five games. One of those losses occurred in Norman as Buddy Hield knocked down a last minute shot to win the game. Now Texas looks to right the ship and to return the favor on Saturday in Austin. A win would seal the fate of the Longhorns and bolster the resume.
On the other end of the equation, the Sooners are looking to secure a No. 1 seed in the tournament. After experiencing a slump, Oklahoma relied heavily on their defense to pull out a win in Morgantown over the West Virginia Mountaineers. Following the win, OU return home blowing out the Oklahoma State Cowboys erasing many of the fears fans held. The two wins are the most recent of a five game streak.
Lon Kruger needs Ryan Spangler to step up and produce once again. But, it's likely guard play will decide who wins the contest. On the season, Texas remains 13-2 at home with three wins over top twenty-five programs. They'll lean on Isaiah Taylor to match the scoring output from Hield.
With three games left in the regular season and the finish in sight, these two programs will leave everything on the court. Only one can reign victorious. Can Oklahoma extend their streak over opponents dressed in orange? Or will the Longhorns shut down the crimson and cream under the direction of Smart?