Oklahoma fell from No. 1 in the Top 25 this week, but the bigger concern for the Sooners is regaining their composure in time to rebound from another Big 12 road defeat.
Though the third-ranked Sooners haven't dropped a home game in more than a year, they must be sharp enough to prevent surging No. 24 Texas from earning a fifth straight victory Monday night and third over a Top 25 opponent on the road.
The country's top 3-point shooting team at 46.2 percent coming into the weekend, Oklahoma (19-3, 7-3) went a season-worst 6-of-24 from beyond the arc in Saturday's 80-69 loss at Kansas State. It was an all-around rough night for the Sooners, who failed to hold an early nine-point lead, allowed the Wildcats to shoot better than any opponent has against them (52.9 percent) this season and reached a boiling point when senior Isaiah Cousins received a late technical for kicking the ball into the crowd.
“If you do not play well and if you get out-fought, you are probably not going to win games in the Big 12,” said coach Lon Kruger, whose team is tied with Kansas and the Longhorns for second in the league behind West Virginia.
“It is a tough lesson for us but we will have to bounce back and play better.”
All of Oklahoma's losses have come on the road, with Saturday's the largest margin of defeat.
The Sooners have won 18 straight at home since losing to Kansas State in overtime Jan. 10, 2015. Included in the run was a 71-69 victory over Texas (16-7, 7-3) on Feb. 17 – the Sooners' fourth straight in the series.
Buddy Hield (25.6 points per game) went 4 of 17 for 12 points in that meeting, and averaged 14 while shooting 33.3 percent in the last three with Texas. The nation's second-leading scorer had 23 points Saturday but shot 7 of 16 and didn't attempt his first free throw until the final 10 minutes.
“Everyone is going to make it tough for me,” said Hield, who had trouble shaking Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu. “I just have to find a way to score the ball … I just have to do a better job.”
Cousins scored 16 and Ryan Spangler added 14 with 10 rebounds. Second-leading scorer Jordan Woodard (13.7 ppg) went 0 for 6 and failed to score in 29 minutes Saturday. Woodard made up for Hield's offensive struggles at home against Texas last season by scoring a team-high 13.
The Longhorns have dropped three straight at Oklahoma by a combined 20 points, but won 67-59 at then-No. 15 Baylor on Monday and followed with Saturday's 69-59 home victory over Texas Tech to return to the poll for the first time since Feb. 2, 2015. The Big 12 leader in defensive field-goal percentage (40.2) during conference play, Texas held the Red Raiders to 38.8 percent after Baylor made just 35.2 percent of its attempts.
“We are feeling good,” guard Isaiah Taylor said. “We are confident as a team right now, but we are not satisfied and we are not going to ease up. This team is hungry.”
Texas, which also won 56-49 at then-No. 6 West Virginia on Jan. 20, is 4-2 against ranked opponents in 2015-16. Longhorns coach Shaka Smart is eager to see how his team handles this task as it tries for its eighth victory in nine games.
“It's a great opportunity and at the same time, a great challenge,” he said. “I would hope our guys are really excited. I'm excited.”
Taylor averages a team-leading 15.3 points but 6.5 on 8-of-35 shooting in four games against Oklahoma.