Men's Basketball: OU to face off against Texas
Michelle Nehrenz, The Oklahoma Daily
The Oklahoma men’s basketball team will look to pick up a big rivalry win as it goes for a season sweep against Texas at 8 tonight in Austin.
The Sooners (18-8, 9-5 Big 12) have put together an impressive stretch recently, winning four of their last five games, with the lone setback coming in an 84-79 overtime loss to No. 15 Oklahoma State.
Much of this success can be attributed to the emergence of senior guard Sam Grooms as a legitimate offensive threat.
Despite only averaging 4.3 points per game this season, Grooms has been on a hot streak of late, scoring 18, 12 and 23 points in his last three games.
“This is probably the best I’ve played since junior college,” Grooms said. “Right before I came here, I was playing pretty well, then I went through the drought last year, I kind of had a fall-off.”
Grooms’ play has certainly helped an offense that has struggled at times during the season, but the team has stepped up its defense as well.
“We’ve been locking down on defense as a group,” freshman guard Je’lon Hornbeak said. “It’s not really been just one player. It’s been everybody collectively bringing their own pieces to the puzzle.”
The Sooners will need to have a good game from both the offense and defense if they hope to take down Texas (12-15, 4-10 Big 12).
The Longhorns are having a rare down year under coach Rick Barnes, but they have looked better than their record suggests at times and have gotten a big boost from the return of their best player, sophomore guard Myck Kabongo.
Kabongo has returned from a 23 game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits, averaging 15.5 points over the course of his first four games.
The last time the two teams met — a 73-67 Oklahoma victory in Norman — Kabongo was serving his suspension, so this will be the first time that the Sooners match up with him this season.
OU hopes his speed and scoring ability don’t lead the Longhorns to a victory, as the Sooners had to hold on for dear life to avoid losing in Norman.
“He helps considerably because [Texas] is adding a top, elite player,” coach Lon Kruger said. “A guy that does a lot of things, not only offensively, but also very active, very quick defensively. He creates; he gets in the paint; he pushes the tempo.”