Oklahoma St.-Texas Preview
Once considered among the nation's elite, defensive struggles have Texas on the verge of falling out of the Top 25.
The 25th-ranked Longhorns will try to snap their longest losing streak in two years by splitting the season series with visiting Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
Texas (14-7, 3-5 Big 12) has surrendered an average of 82.3 points and 44.4 percent shooting from 3-point range during a three-game slide, its longest since losing five straight from Jan. 5-21, 2013. The Longhorns, who were ranked sixth in the Dec. 1 poll, were giving up 56.3 points per game and 30.0 percent from beyond the arc through the first 18 games.
They struggled in nearly every facet Saturday, missing their first 12 shots while allowing 12 of 22 from long range in an 83-60 loss at then-No. 20 Baylor.
"When you are not making shots, the urgency on defense should be even higher," said forward Jonathan Holmes, who had 17 points and six rebounds but missed six of seven from behind the arc. "It starts from defense and you go from there."
While each defeat of Texas' current slide has come against a ranked opponent, it also lost 69-58 at Oklahoma State (14-7, 4-5) on Jan. 10 as part of a 2-5 stretch.
The Longhorns' issues in that meeting had more to do with shooting then defending. They converted just 34.4 percent from the field - 9.0 percent below their season mark - in losing for the fifth time in six matchups.
Coach Rick Barnes would like to see some improvement in the paint after Texas produced just 20 points versus Oklahoma State. The Longhorns totaled 42 on Saturday, but tied a season high with 26 attempted 3s while making just five.
"That's not who we are, what we should be doing," Barnes said. "We need to go inside."
That didn't work for Holmes against the Cowboys, as he didn't get a point while missing all 10 attempts from the floor. Center Cameron Ridley and forward Connor Lammert combined for seven points.
Ridley had 12 points and 13 rebounds in an 87-68 home win over Oklahoma State on Feb. 11.
Isaiah Taylor is averaging 18.7 points over the last three games, but went just 3 for 12 from the field while finishing with 11 points against the Cowboys last month.
Oklahoma State has split the first two of this five-game stretch against Top 25 opposition, which continues with eighth-ranked Kansas and No. 19 Baylor.
The Cowboys, who beat the Bears 64-53 last Tuesday, were outscored by 15 points in the second half of Saturday's 64-56 to then-No. 24 Oklahoma.
"Obviously, they got too many 50-50 balls and second shots in the second half," coach Travis Ford said. "We've got to be a little bit tougher in the second half. I think we kind of lost our wind in the second half. I told them that we've got to keep our head up and move on. You can't feel sorry for yourself. We don't have time for that. Keep your head up and move on."
Phil Forte III, second in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.3 per game, and Le'Bryan Nash, third in the league at 16.9 per contest, each scored 20 against Texas last month.
Nash, however, is averaging 12.7 points on 40.0 percent shooting in his last three games.