When you’ve got No. 16 Oklahoma playing No. 10 Texas, you expect a competitive game. Well, Monday’s showdown in Austin was anything but competitive, as the Sooners lassoed the Longhorns, 70-49.
TaShawn Thomas led the way for Oklahoma, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
“I just try to go out there and play as hard as I can,” the 6-8, 240-pound forward said on Ferrall on the Bench.
His teammates followed suit. Oklahoma had more rebounds (42-37), more assists (10-8) more steals (8-2) and fewer turnovers (9-12) than Texas.
“We just knew that we had to stay physical with them the whole game,” Thomas said. “Our guards anticipated a lot of passes and got a lot of steals and on drives got a little piece of the ball and knocked it out. We just had to stay aggressive on defense, and we knew if we did that, we’d be able to come out with a win.”
Thomas was one of four Oklahoma starters to finish in double figures. The others were Buddy Hield (13 points), Isaiah Cousins (12) and Jordan Woodard (20), while Dinjiyl Walker scored 10 points off the bench.
Texas simply couldn’t keep up. The Longhorns’ starters combined for 25 points on 11-of-40 shooting (27.5 percent).
“We came in thinking it was going to be a tight game the whole time, so the fact that it actually wasn’t was kind of difficult to keep everybody humble,” Thomas said. “I feel like our defense just got a lot better from the beginning of the season, and I feel like it’s going to continue to get better.”
Oklahoma led, 33-14, at halftime and didn’t let up in the second half. For the game, Texas shot just 18-of-60 (30 percent) from the floor, including 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three-point range.
“We just told each other the first four minutes were the most important,” Thomas said. “If we came out and won those first four minutes, we’d have a good advantage on keeping the lead. Just try to stay on top of them. Don’t let up and let them get a run. I think we did a good job of that. Everybody came out defending again and rebounding again so it kept the lead going.”
Oklahoma (11-3), which has won seven of eight, hosts Kansas State (7-7) on Jan. 10 and plays at No. 14 West Virginia (14-1) on Jan. 13.
“We’re just trying to stay humble, not let these wins get to us and just go on to the next game with a fresh mind,” Thomas said. “If we lose, (we’re trying to) not let that get to us or anything. We’re trying to stay together as a team and keep our heads level so we can prepare for the next team.”
Amazingly, six Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 25, including five in the top 17.
“You never get a break in this conference, but I think our team’s great,” Thomas said. “We just got to take one game at a time, and I think we’ll be good.”