The Texas Longhorns are currently projected as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi. It's clear that Shaka Smart has things headed in the eight direction with wins over North Carolina, Iowa State, Baylor, and Big XII Conference leader West Virginia. Monday night, the Longhorns attempt to build on their current resume taking on the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman. In the first installment of Red River Rivalry basketball, what should Sooners fans know about the Longhorns?
Coach Smart received some bad news after Cameron Ridley, a senior and the team's second leading scorer suffered a foot injury. Requiring surgery, the big man was forced to the sideline indefinitely and his absence has been noticed on both ends of the court. Regardless, the game must go on as Isaiah Taylor continues to lead the squad behind 15.3 points and 5.1 assists. Behind the star of the team, Javan Felix has proven he can score in bunches when the opportunity presents itself. In 23 games, Felix has score 14 or more in seven games pulling his average up to 10.9 points per game.
Coming from VCU, Smart carries with him a style of defense coined the "Havoc Defense." With active hands and pressure a nearly every turn, Texas has allowed a league leading 65.4 points per game to conference opponents. The number stands in stark comparison to Oklahoma who allows a league worst 78.1 points in conference play. Dependent upon creating turnovers, the Longhorns boast a +1.5 turnover margin which could go a long way in scoring an upset on the road Monday.
The most notable weakness of this Texas team comes by way of rebounding. Falling in the middle of the pack nationally, the Longhorns fail to earn many second chance opportunities. On average, UT pulls down 8.6 offensive boards when playing in conference. Texas must compete on the glass if they hope to secure another upset, this time against a tough Oklahoma program.