After showing his rust following a 10-game absence, Isaiah Taylor acknowledged he needs to get back in the groove quickly for Texas.
The 10th-ranked Longhorns could use that improved performance in Monday night’s visit from No. 16 Oklahoma.
Taylor committed a career-worst six turnovers and missed eight of 10 shots in his first game back from a broken left wrist, Saturday’s Big 12 opener at Texas Tech. The sophomore guard, who averaged 15.0 points in the opening three contests, finished with eight points and four steals in 30 minutes in a 70-61 victory.
"I knew it was going to be a tough one," Taylor said. "I know I have to do better going into the game against Oklahoma on Monday. I just got to do better on the defensive end and get my teammates the ball."
Texas (12-2, 1-0) overcame a 38.5 percent shooting performance to win its first conference opener in four seasons. Javan Felix had a team-best 15 points and is averaging 15.3 in the past four games after scoring 8.2 per contest in his first 10.
The Longhorns haven’t opened Big 12 play with back-to-back wins since going 11-0 in 2010-11, which was also the last time they contended for a regular-season title. They’re hoping to get back to that point with Taylor’s return and the addition of highly touted freshman Myles Turner, currently averaging 11.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and a conference-best 2.6 blocks.
Texas, though, will face a number of ranked opponents in this title drive, beginning with Oklahoma. The Sooners (10-3, 1-0) were picked third in the conference’s preseason poll, just behind the Longhorns.
Oklahoma opened league play with a 73-63 victory over No. 21 Baylor on Saturday. TaShawn Thomas led the way with 24 points – one shy of matching a season high – and eight rebounds after a subpar non-conference season.
Thomas averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in those 12 games, well below his 14.5 points and 8.7 boards per contest in his three seasons at Houston.
"I didn’t really feel like I played to my potential, so I just talked to myself and I talked to coaches and everything, and they told me that when conference starts out, it’s a new season," he said. "I have a new beginning, so I just came out with a fresh mindset and didn’t try think about anything that happened in the preseason or anything like that."
Thomas had 15 points and 10 rebounds in his only matchup with Texas while with the Cougars, a 73-72 victory March 20, 2013, in the CBI tournament’s opening round.
He’ll next try to lead the Sooners to their fourth victory in five matchups. They swept last season’s two meetings with Isaiah Cousins scoring a career-high 24 points in a 77-65 home win March 1 and Buddy Hield tallying 22 in an 88-85 win Jan. 4, 2014, that ended an eight-game skid at Texas.
Both players are coming off one of their best performances in 2013-14. Cousins had 19 points and eight rebounds Saturday while Hield had 20 points and a season-high 10 rebounds.
Felix scored a career-high 28 points in the loss last January but was held to two on 1-of-5 shooting in the most recent matchup.
Oklahoma hasn’t won consecutive games at Texas since 2001 and 2002.