On the heels of a four-game winning streak, Texas is suddenly back in the NCAA Tournament mix, although they are still on the wrong side of the bubble right now.
That's why their game Saturday at Oklahoma State, another improving young Big 12 team, is so important, as the Longhorns don't have any margin for error. A loss to the Cowboys would probably make Texas' home game against No. 10 Baylor next Monday a must-win.
However, Travis Ford's team, who have already beaten No. 4 Missouri and Iowa State at home, won't be a walk-over, despite their 12-14 record.
Oklahoma State has gotten much better play from freshman LeBryan Nash, a McDonald's All-American out of Dallas, in Big 12 play, especially in Stillwater. The 6'7 235 small forward already has an NBA physique, and he can present huge match-up problems for Texas on the perimeter if his jump shot is falling.
However, Nash isn't the Cowboys only weapon. Not only do they have two more extremely athletic young players, 6'8 forward Michael Cobbins and 6'3 guard Markel Brown, coming into their own, they also have senior 5'7 guard Keiton Page, the team's leading scorer who has hit a number of big shots in his time in Stillwater.
The Longhorns will try to attack Page defensively, as he shouldn't be able to defend either of Texas' two main ball-handlers, J'Covan Brown and Myck Kabongo, or their two wings, freshmen Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis.
Texas, a young team that features five freshmen, has struggled offensively away from home, and they can't afford to fall behind against Oklahoma State like they did against a far less talented Oklahoma team on Monday.
The 3:00 PM game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network and streamed online at ESPN3.
For more on Texas basketball, head over to Burnt Orange Nation and Barking Carnival, while Cowboys Ride For Free has you covered for everything Oklahoma State related.