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College Basketball: Preview of Texas @ Oklahoma State

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Sorry about not writing up the Texas Tech game. Watching the game I felt like I was being water boarded by some scientists from the RAND Corporation. And then, to make matters worse, I was watching the game in a Tulsa sports bar with a Marquette fan from Milwaukee who blamed me for jinxing Dominic James' broken foot. To top it all off, there was a carny style impish looking female with freakishly big arms who kept interrupting by challenging me to "arm wrassel". Negative ghostrider. The pattern is full. "But I worked really hard on these guns." To which I replied, "Why?" It was Oklahoma after all. Why should I be surprised?

Ironically the boys travel to Stillwater to face a Cowboy squad with its collective backs against the wall. Win and OSU is likely in the tourney, lose, and OSU would have to beat KSU and Oklahoma to get in. This a big one so Texas better lace 'em up tight. Here are the keys to the ballgame for Texas.

Keep Byron Eaton In Front
Eaton really won't hunt his perimeter jumpshot, instead Byron will probe and prod a defense looking for penetration oppurtunities that allow him to kick to OSU's terrific collection of perimeter shooters. If teams don't help to cut off Eaton's dribble penetration, however, he's looking to take his football body right to the chest of shotblocking centers and forwards to draw fouls and free throws. Eaton has shot an astounding 215 foul shots which is about a hundred more than anyone else on the team. Dogus Balbay has to keep Byron in front by turning him. If Byron can get a shoulder past you it's over for even the strongest on ball defenders. Make him crossover or reverse pivot with the basketball and you can keep BE out of the lane. I would also give him a cushion until he knocks down a couple J's.

Make Terrel Harris and Byron Eaton Jumpshooters
You're going to have to give to get against the Cowboys because they roll out 4 pretty good perimeter scorers. Terrel Harris hitting 3's for the Cowboys, however, is fool's gold. Ditto for Eaton. You'll have to overshow and hedge to Obi Muonelo and James Anderson but you're doing the Cowboys a favor when you waste energy and scarce perimeter help resources by chasing Harris and Eaton off their jumpshots. Texas is better served by going under ball screens involving Eaton and Harris, and enticing jumpers when this pair is coming off of down screens or baseline screens. If you over commit to their jumpers, you open things up for the Cowboys' two deadly shooters.

Chase Obi Muenelo Off His Jumper
Obi doesn't like to put the ball on the deck and go to the hole, so it would be a good idea for Texas to jump on his shooting arm on the catch and force Muenelo to try to do damage on the dribble. If he's allowed to get into a catch and shoot rhythm, Texas is going to have a nightmarish time slowing down OSU's best player. James Anderson.

Guarding James Anderson
Texas doesn't have a player on the roster that can slow down the talented 6-6 guard. If I was Barnes I'd consider all out denial with either Justin Mason and Varez Ward in a an effort to make Anderson work to find offense. James was a ridiculous 12-16 from the field last time out against the Horns, and if he's able to duplicate that performance today, Texas likely loses.

Patience
OSU is going to speed up the game with 4 and sometimes 5 perimeter players on the floor so Texas has to be careful not to get into a running game for the sake of running. If Texas has numbers on the break then punishing the Cowboys in transition is in order. If Texas has 3 on 3 or worse, Dogus needs to find shots for players in the secondary break or run offense. OSU makes a ton of easy looks available for opposing teams that simply run offense, so Texas has to do a good job of being patient, moving the basketball, making extra passes, and not bailing out the Cowboys with bad shots early in the shot clock.

Pittman and the Lilliputians
If Texas wants to get Pittman involved against OSU's 4 guard look, it's going to have surround the big man with quickness and ballhandlers to maximize the ability to control tempo. Abrams, Balbay, Mason, and James/Ward give the Horns the ballhandlers and quickness needed to keep OSU from dictating game speed. This also allows Texas to use Abrams on the strongside and then take advantage of an OSU overplay by quickly reversing the basketball for an easy entry to Dex on the weak block. OSU has zero answer for Pittman in this game. Dex needs 20 minutes today.

Texas better bring it, because OSU is going to be sky high knowing what's on the line. It'll take a hellacious effort for the Horns to win, because this is a horrible spot for Texas.

Thoughts?