Entering Saturday’s game at Oklahoma, No. 24 Texas ranked dead last in the Big 12 in turnover margin and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio. Those have been areas of concern for Rick Barnes’ team, which has exceeded the preseason expectations set by many who believed the head coach was on the proverbial hot seat. And against the rival Sooners turnovers were once again an issue for Texas, which committed 16 in their 77-65 loss in Norman.
Isaiah Cousins scored 24 points and Buddy Hield added 17 for Oklahoma, which outscored Texas by 21 points (30-9) from beyond the arc. But the Longhorns were able to make up for that with their superior size, outscoring the Sooners 38-18 in the paint. Cameron Ridley accounted for 19 points and 14 rebounds, with the sophomore center proving to be a handful for the Sooner front court.
What Texas couldn’t make up were those 16 turnovers, with the Sooners making them pay on multiple occasions.
Oklahoma scored 23 points off of turnovers, outscoring the Longhorns 23-5 in that statistical category. Texas may have young guards with freshman Isaiah Taylor and sophomore Javan Felix being asked to lead the way, but against the Sooners the entire starting lineup struggled with turnovers. All five starters committed at least two turnovers with Felix committing three. By comparison Oklahoma, which ranks fourth in the Big 12 in both turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio, committed just seven turnovers on the afternoon.
With the victory Oklahoma completes a sweep of the season series while also adding another quality win to its resume, which will help in regards to seeding for the NCAA tournament. As for Texas they’ll also hear their name called on Selection Sunday, but if they want to play multiple games in the NCAA tournament the Longhorns must take better care of the basketball.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.