No. 7 Texas faces Oklahoma State, looks to bolster seed for NCAAs

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Seventh-ranked Texas will look to build momentum for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament when it squares off against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.

The Longhorns (23-8) earned the No. 2 seed in the event with a successful regular season that was capped by a 75-59 home win over No. 3 Kansas on Saturday.

The Jayhawks retained the top seed in the tournament while Texas produced its highest finish in the league since 2011, when it also was the No. 2 seed.

“I’m really proud of this group,” Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said after the win over Kansas. “And I can’t say it enough to those guys. Just the way they carried themselves on the court, off the court. They stayed the course. These guys never stopped working. They keep working every single day; their work ethic has been off the chart.

“We don’t want this journey to stop. We know there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”

On Wednesday, Terry was named the men’s college basketball National Coach of the Year by the Sporting News. Terry, who took over for the suspended and then fired Chris Beard in January, is the first coach in the history of the Longhorns’ men’s basketball program to earn the prestigious honor.

Texas has won 16 of its 23 games since Terry took the reins, including five triumphs over AP Top 25 opponents. The Longhorns are 7-1 under Terry in games decided by five points or less or in overtime.

The Longhorns are led by All-Big 12 first-team guard Marcus Carr, who is averaging 16.2 points and 4.2 assists per game. Guard Sir’Jabari Rice also is a force, earning the league’s Sixth Man Award, while forward Timmy Allen was an honorable mention All-Big 12 honoree.

The seventh-seeded Cowboys (18-14) bulled their way into the quarterfinals with a 57-49 win over rival Oklahoma, the 10th seed, on Wednesday in the first round. Oklahoma State swept its three games against the Sooners this season for the first time since the 1964-65 season.

Caleb Asberry led the Cowboys with 15 points while Bryce Thompson added 12 and John-Michael Wright 10. Tyreek Smith and Moussa Cisse had 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively, for Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys held Oklahoma to 25 percent shooting from the field, their best defensive performance of the year, and had a season-low nine turnovers.

“It’s big to get a win in the Big 12 tournament, but obviously it’s an in-state rival so it has a little bit more meaning,” Thompson said. “We are happy we won, and we’re gonna be ready to play Texas. I’m sure they watched his game and they’ll watch the film and they’ll have a game plan ready, but so will we.”

Oklahoma State is projected to be the eighth Big 12 team to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament after it wasn’t allowed to compete in the postseason last year because of NCAA sanctions. The Cowboys have played without injured forward Avery Anderson III (wrist) since early February and had leading scorer Kalib Boone on the bench for most of Wednesday’s game.

The Longhorns swept the two regular-season games with Oklahoma State, beating the Cowboys 56-46 in Stillwater on Jan. 7 and 89-75 in Austin 17 days later.

–Field Level Media

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