Denied a Top 25 ranking, surging Oklahoma looks to take down rival No. 21 Texas
7:30 p.m., Erwin Center (capacity 16,540)
About the series: OU leads 57-42. Former Texas coach Shaka Smart reversed the Horns' losing trend for a few seasons in the mid-2010s. UT has won seven of the last 11 meetings, including the last two in Norman.
About the Longhorns: Beard prides himself on running a “no-excuses” program. But not having forward Tre Mitchell (COVID-19 protocols) was a factor against Oklahoma State. Mitchell (9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) is expected to be held out against Oklahoma too. “It’s challenging playing the game without your best players,” Beard said. “But nobody cares about excuses, nor do I.” ... The Horns need more from Bishop and Dylan Disu. Bishop hasn’t scored in double figures since Dec. 3. Disu is now full strength after missing most of nonconference to get over a knee injury. ... Beard said he spoke with players about Texas ex Royal Ivey (2001-04) who logged 10 seasons in the NBA. Ivey figured out how to play a specific role. “Hopefully everybody we put in the game can impact the game with aggressiveness, with heart and with Texas Fight and these things, and I think that’s something we are working on right now,” Beard said.
About the Sooners: Coach Lon Kruger piled up 195 wins in 10 seasons at OU, capping a brilliant 35-year run and retiring after last season. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione found a proven winner in Moser, who went 188-141 the past decade at Loyola and won three league titles over the past four seasons. ... Already this season, OU has beaten No. 14 Florida and No. 12 Arkansas. On Saturday, The Sooners took down No. 11 Iowa State. They shot a staggering 61.7% and went 7-for-12 from 3-point range. Gibson had 20 points, and Groves added 16. And it wasn’t as if the Cyclones had an off day. They shot 55.8%. Moser’s bunch was already on the cusp of a national ranking. Saturday’s win, plus the Sooners' total body of work, should have launched them into The Associated Press Top 25, but they're still on the outside looking in. OU would be ranked No. 26 based on vote totals.