Texas Basketball escape Oklahoma State surge, advance to Big 12 semi-finals

It was a good debut for Texas Basketball in the Big 12 Tournament, beating a solid Oklahoma State squad to advance to the semifinals.

In Coach Rodney Terry’s Big 12 conference tournament debut as a head coach, the Texas Longhorns took on a hungry Oklahoma State Cowboy team. Heading into this game, Texas Basketball found itself as a lock for the big dance as a two-seed. On the other side, Oklahoma State is listed as Last Four In. All of this comes from Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Bracketology as of March 9, 2023.

The stakes for the Cowboys were a lot higher than those of the Longhorns. But no one wants to get booted out of the conference tournament no matter the standings. Despite a fourth-quarter surge by Oklahoma State, Texas did just enough to starve off the hungry Cowboys 60-47.

Here are three takeaways from Texas’ Big 12 quarterfinal win.

1. Defense to offense

A huge aspect of the Longhorns’ success has to be credited to the way they executed their defense to offensive game. They set the tone in the first half, forcing 11 turnovers with six coming from steals. They also racked up 15 points off Cowboys’ turnovers and scored 10 off the break.

Oklahoma State played a lot better transition defense in the second half. They only let Texas score seven off turnovers despite turning the ball over nine times. Overall, the 22 points off turnovers favored the Longhorns when it mattered most.

2. Freshman spark

Without Timmy Allen, someone needed to take a step up from the bench with Sir’Jabari Rice receiving the starting nod, his first of the season. Coach Terry needed another threat off the bench to make up for Rice’s impact. The man with the answer just so happened to be the freshman, Arterio Morris.

Morris has shined as a freshman so far even if his minutes have been sporadic throughout the season. During the regular season, he averaged 4.8 points per game which is not a testament to his impact on the team now and what it will be in the future.

This game against the Cowboys showed what he can do now in the present and in the future. He made an instant scoring impact in the first half as a steady shot on the bench. He finished with a stat line of 10 points and two steals.

The trust Terry showed in his freshman to play a huge role and how Morris responded is a testament to how set this team will be for the rest of the postseason.

3. Free throw shooting

If you ask anyone what points are the most valuable in a game of basketball, the majority would say free throws. At least that’s what I’d hope. Free throws make or break a game no matter the deficit or advantage. Free throws make a statement on how your team can perform in any game.

Texas showed the value of free throws against Oklahoma State. It’s no secret this game was a complete mess on the offensive end. The team shot 37.3% from the field and 31.6% from beyond the arc. Marcus Carr struggled mightily, only amassing 10 points on 30.7% shooting.

What Carr and the team did well on was their free throw shooting. Carr drained six free throws on nine attempts while Rice was a perfect 6-6 and Dylan Disu, who finished with a double-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and a block, drained 3-4 from the charity stripe.

As a team, they shot 76.2% from the line. If Texas didn’t take advantage of their opportunities from the line and convert 16, the Longhorns could’ve been sent back to Austin and await their seeding in the Big Dance.