The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: Oklahoma 8-1, Texas 9-1. Away Record: Oklahoma 0-3, Texas 2-1. Neutral Record: Oklahoma 0-4, Texas 2-1. Conference Record: Oklahoma 0-2, Texas 1-0. Series Record: Oklahoma leads, 47-29.
GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Texas Longhorns will play their Big 12 Conference home opener, as they welcome the Oklahoma Sooners to Austin this afternoon.
The Longhorns are a perfect 12-0 in conference home-openers under Rick Barnes and will certainly be favored to make it 13-0. Texas has won seven of its last eight games to move to an impressive 13-3 on the year. The Longhorns began conference play on the road at Texas Tech this week, routing the Red Raiders in Lubbock, 83-52.
The Sooners are still searching for their first Big 12 win of the year after opening league play with back-to-back losses to Texas A&M (69-51) and Baylor (74-61). With the two losses, Jeff Capel's squad has fallen to an even 8-8 on the season, with all eight wins coming at home. The team is winless in seven tries outside of Norman this year.
Oklahoma holds a 47-29 lead in the all-time series. The two teams split a pair of games last season, but Texas has won eight of the last 10 meetings, overall.
The Sooners were done in on the road at Baylor, as the Bears shot a scorching 62.2 percent from the floor to keep Oklahoma at bay. Steven Pledger led three Sooners in double figures with 17 points. Cameron Clark added 16, followed by Carl Blair's 10, but OU really struggled down low, with Baylor outscoring its foe 44-24 in the paint. On the season, Oklahoma is shooting a decent .467 from the floor, but it has led to only 67.2 ppg. With the team allowing 66.2 ppg, it doesn't leave much room for error. Forward Andrew Fitzgerald paces the team in both scoring (13.5 ppg), but with four of the team's five starters being guards, producing down low has not been easy. Fitzgerald is also the team's top rebounder, but is bringing in just 5.3 rpg. Scoring help comes in the cord of Cade Davis (13.1 ppg) and Pledger (11.8 ppg).
The Longhorns can win games at either end of the floor, as evidenced by their impressive +16.4 scoring margin. The team is averaging a hardy 78.8 ppg this year, while allowing a mere 62.4. Opponents are managing to convert just 36.7 percent of their shots overall, including an anemic 29.3 percent from behind the arc. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, with budding star Jordan Hamilton leading the way. The 6-9 sophomore is averaging 19.4 ppg, while pulling down just over seven boards. Freshman Tristan Thompson (12.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and senior Gary Johnson (11.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) complete a potent frontcourt trio. Freshman point guard Cory Joseph has proven valuable as both a scorer (11.4 ppg) and distributor (3.2 apg). Texas made light work of Texas Tech this week, as the Longhorns shot a solid 54.7 percent from the floor. Thompson led the way with a game-high 20 points. Hamilton added 16 points, while Joseph tallied 15. Johnson just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
With the exception of just a couple of games, the Longhorns have been clicking on all cylinders. Texas has a huge advantage up front in this one and Hamilton and company should dominate en route to another double-digit win.