Monday’s game may be the biggest regular season contest for Texas, and Rick Barnes knows it.
“The team that wins this league will be the team that goes on the road and wins some road games,” said Barnes as he team prepares for its Big Monday matchup in Norman, Okla.
No. 11/11 Texas (12-3, 1-0 Big 12)vs.No. 6/5 Oklahoma (15-1, 1-0 Big 12)
Monday, January 12, 2009, 8 p.m. CSTLloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.
TV Info: The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Ron Franklin has play-by-play, Fran Fraschilla will be the analyst and Holly Rowe will be the on-court reporter.
Projected starting lineups
G Justin Mason, Jr., 6-2, 194 – 7.1 points, 5.3 assists G A.J. Abrams, Sr., 5-10, 161- 17.5 points, 2.3 reboundsG/F Damion James, Jr., 6-7, 222 – 14.9 points, 8.7 reboundsF/C Connor Atchley, Sr., 6-10, 228 – 6.6 points, 3.6 reboundsC Dexter Pittman, Jr., 6-10, 298 – 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds
G Austin Johnson, Sr., 6-3, 170 – 6.6 points, 4.3 assistsG Tony Crocker, Jr., 6-6, 206 – 10.4 points, 3.2 reboundsG Willie Warren, Fr., 6-4, 207 – 15.8 points, 1.7 reboundsF Taylor Griffin, Sr., 6-7, 238 – 9.1 points, 6.8 reboundsF Blake Griffin, Soph., 6-10, 251 – 22.5 points, 14.1 rebounds
Rick Barnes: “The team that wins this league will be the team that goes on the road and wins some road games…We had that (tough non-conference) schedule to prepare for situations like this. The other night at Arkansas we sure didn’t use what we’d gained. I hope we can use it against Oklahoma.”
Barnes on Blake Griffin: “Everything goes through him and they surround him with shooters. They’ve got guys on the floor that can really shoot the ball, so you’ve got to guard the perimeter because I’m not sure you can guard him one-on-one because he does such a good job with his positioning and they do a good job of getting him the ball. We’ve got our work cut out. The perimeter and post guys are going to have to help each other.”
Atchley Back: Senior F/C Connor Atchley left the Longhorns’ win over Appalachian State with a split tongue that required stitches (See: Texas, Pittman Pummel Appalachian State). Atchley returned in Texas’ Big 12 Conference opener against Iowa State and should be good to go against Oklahoma.
Abrams looking to get back on track: Senior guard A.J. Abrams leads Texas with 17.5 points per game, but has scored only seven and eight points, respectively, in the Horns’ last two games, shooting a collective 5-for-26.
Front-court sharing the load: While Abrams has struggled, Gary Johnson, Damion James and Dexter Pittman have stepped up, with all three scoring in double figures in each of Texas’ last three games. Against Iowa State, all three shot 50 percent or better in a 75-67 win.
Texas may go ‘Jumbo’ at times: Atchley has had some early-season struggles, but he’s been performing better as of late, which opens up additional options for Barnes.
“As Connor’s getting in a groove and shooting, we might — to use a football term — use a ‘Jumbo-package’ and play zone, put Connor out there with Gary, Damion, Dexter and A.J.,” said Barnes.
Previous meetings: The Sooners hold a 45-27 lead in the all-time series. The Horns have won six straight and are 11-3 against the Sooners in the last 14 meetings, including wins in the last two meetings in Norman.
Also see: Longhorns Win Big 12 Opener on Big Shooting Day from James, Johnson ESPN PreviewKnight Watch: Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin