Feb. 16, 2011
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The secret to Texas' winning streak is simple: don't fall behind.
Not for a minute, not even for a second.
For the sixth straight game, the Longhorns (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) never trailed in cruising to a 73-55 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night that tightened their grip on first place in the Big 12.
Texas hasn't fallen behind any opponent since the last time the Longhorns and Cowboys played back on Jan. 26. And that came in the first half of what ended up being a 15-point Texas win.
"Our biggest concern is trying to keep the foot on the pedal," said senior forward Gary Johnson, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday night. "We haven't been in a situation where we've been behind. We don't want to start it now."
The Cowboys had their split-second chance to grab a lead when they won the opening tip, but Markel Brown's shot was blocked by Texas freshman Tristan Thompson.
Oklahoma State made it 2-all a minute later, but Texas' Jordan Hamilton answered with a 3-pointer and the Longhorns were off and running.
Texas (23-3, 11-0 Big 12) has won 11 in a row overall and holds a two-game conference lead over No. 1 Kansas with five games left in the regular season.
Hamilton finished with 15 points and Thompson scored 14 for Texas, which has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-7). The Longhorns have seldom been challenged in conference play, winning 10 of their 11 league games by 10 or more points.
Brown scored 14 points to lead Oklahoma State.
The Texas winning streak has followed a typical pattern: The Longhorns race to a big early lead and then set the game on cruise control in the second half.
Hamilton scored all of his points in the first, hitting his first three 3-point shots before his shooting touch mostly disappeared. Thompson's block on Oklahoma State's first shot started another stellar defensive effort by the Longhorns. Texas forced the Cowboys into 12 first-half turnovers.
Thompson had an alley-oop dunk on a feed from Hamilton to start a 13-4 Texas run. The Longhorns built the lead as high as 33-19 when Hamilton made a short jumper in the lane. Texas held a double-digit halftime lead, 36-25, for the fifth straight game.
"We just dug ourselves a hole and were fortunate to just be down by 11," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "We were allowing too many points in transition. You just can't do that against Texas."
Texas has sometimes struggled to keep up the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half and let opponents rally. The previous three opponents had either outscored or stayed even with Texas in the second half. Baylor cut a 19-point Texas lead to three in the final minutes.
Not this time. Johnson wouldn't allow it.
"When you play with as much energy and passion as he does, good things happen," Ford said.
Johnson dominated the first 7 minutes by scoring 11 of Texas' first 15 points in the second half. In one three-basket sequence, he stepped out for a long fadeaway jumper, posted up Oklahoma State's Roger Franklin for a three-point play, then got an easy tip-in after Hamilton's miss to put Texas up 51-34.
"I was just all over the court tonight, trying to take advantage of the mismatches we had," Johnson said.
Texas guard Cory Joseph put the game away with about 12 minutes left. Joseph swished a 3-pointer when left all alone in the right corner, then finished a fast break with a layup off his own steal to put Texas ahead 56-35.
Texas shot just 44 percent and continued to struggle from the free throw line (16 of 28), but defensively held the Cowboys to 38 percent shooting. Texas has allowed an opponent to shoot better than 40 percent just once during the winning streak.
Big 12 teams are averaging only 55 points against the Longhorns.
"In the second half of every game we kind of let up our lead," Hamilton said. "This time, we came out with an edge and played good defense."
• Texas has set a school record with 11 consecutive Big 12 wins. The previous record was 10 straight over a two-year span from Feb. 13, 2001 to Jan. 19, 2002
• The last time Texas trailed in a game was the first half of the game at Oklahoma State (25-23 - 4:04). Dogus Balbay hit two free throws to tie the game at 25-25. Texas has gone the last 264:04 without trailing.
• This marks the second time in program history (first in the Rick Barnes era) that Texas has started the year with at least 23 wins in its first 26 games. The 1946-47 Final Four squad posted a 25-1 mark through the first 26 games.
• Texas has not trailed at home in any of its six conference games
• Texas has posted a +15.8 average scoring margin in the first half of its last six games. The average halftime score of those games has been a 41-25 Texas lead.
• This marks the first time that Texas has won 11 straight games in league play in the same season since the 1962-63 season when the Longhorns started 13-0 and finished 13-1 in Southwest Conference play
• Texas has won 10 of its 11 conference games by double digits
• Texas is holding Big 12 opponents to 54.6 points per game
• Texas has held nine of its 11 Big 12 opponents under 40.0% shooting from the field
• Texas owned a rebounding edge for the 23rd time in 26 games on the season
• Texas owns a + 17.3 edge in scoring margin through the first 11 conference games
• Texas has won 10 of its last 11 games against Oklahoma State
• Texas has won 15 of its last 17 contests against Oklahoma State in Austin
• Texas improved to 21-11 against Oklahoma State in the Rick Barnes era
• Texas improved to 87-15 (.853) in Big 12 home games in the Rick Barnes era and 181-23 (.887) overall at home during his tenure
• Texas' 36-25 lead at halftime marked the eighth time in 11 Big 12 games that Texas has led by 10 or more points at the half
• Texas held Oklahoma State without a field goal for a stretch of 5:19 in the second half (13:43 to 8:24) to build a 60-36 lead
• Reached double digits in scoring (15 points) for the 25th time this season and the 43rd time in his career (60 games)
• Registered his third double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) on the season and the eighth in his career (114 games)
• Tied his season high with 17 points
• Reached double digits in scoring for the 18th time this season and 54th time in his career
• Reached double digits in rebounding for the fourth time this season
• Now has tallied 1,073 career points, placing him 26th in Texas history
• Reached double digits in scoring (11 points) for the 16th time this season
• Reached double digits in scoring (14 points) for the 21st time this season
• Recorded at least two blocks for the 20th time this season
Head Coach Rick Barnes
On Gary Johnson's versatility: Well he's improved in so many different areas, but obviously when he first got here he was a five-feet-end player, post player, it's what he always did. He's put as much time in, improving his range, he's a real worker. Again, over the years he's put as much time as anybody we've had here. Where he's really improved is defensively. Sometimes he's got a little bit of a size disadvantage inside, but he'll still try to fight on the perimeter. And his versatility allows us in a game like tonight to play with basically four guards. He's a guy that can go out and play 40-50 feet if has too.
On the game without Marshall Moses: Well I thought that they did a really good job. They were going to let us shot jump shots. There's no doubt when we left the game, they were going to pack it back in there. Obviously with Dogus [Balbay] they've always backed way off in there. If you go back and look, they outscored us in the paint. The first half it was 18-6 in their favor. That's the one thing that I pointed out at half time, that we should basically work it in there, because they were playing with four guards at that point in time. Again, they were helping each other a lot, and we had some open shots and we made some, and we missed a few. In the second half we did a better job obviously but we got some of that in transition too.
Senior F Gary Johnson
On being so versatile in his scoring: I was just all over the court tonight. I was just trying to take advantage of the mismatches that we had. That was pretty much it.
On the fact that Texas has not trailed in seven games: Our biggest concern is trying to keep our foot on the pedal. Obviously we haven't been in a situation like that where we've been behind, so we don't want to start it right now.
Sophomore G/F Jordan Hamilton
On the boost that Gary [Johnson] gave them in the beginning of the second half: In the second half of every game we kind of let up our lead, and this time we came out with an edge and played good defense. That's why we were able to get that lead. Gary did a great job tonight.
On the first alley-oop to Tristan Thompson: Tristan and I have been working on that a lot, even in practice. If I see he's open and I give him a little room, I know he can almost jump over the guys so I have confidence in him with that. The second time the ball just slipped out of his hands, but any other time I think he'll catch it.
OKLAHOMA STATE QUOTES
Head Coach Travis Ford
Opening statement: Give Texas credit, we just got beat by a better team tonight. They are a very good basketball team and are deserving of everything people have been saying about them, their rankings and things like that. I thought in the first half, we just dug ourselves a hole and I thought we were fortunate to only be down by 11. I think we had 12 turnovers and they went to the foul line I think 19 times. That is a bad combination right there, a very poor combination. We weren't allowing our half court defense, which had been pretty good lately, to really take effect because we were fouling and we allowed too many fouls in transition. I think we allowed 18 points in turnovers and that is something we cannot do with Texas. Obviously 18 turnovers we can't do that, and we weren't shooting the ball extremely well. You just can't go on the road and shoot our percentage and have 17 turnovers but I thought our guys competed, I thought we competed. They are just a good basketball team.
On Gary Johnson: When you work as hard as he does and play with as much energy and passion as he does, good things happen to him. That's the way it works if you have any game, now if you're not any good at the game the you can have as much passion as you want and things may not work for you but he's got some game, he's good. Good things happen to people who play as hard as he does and play with as much passion as he does and I thought he made some good shots tonight. When you play hard, you find yourself in the right spot, it's amazing how that works. When you play hard it's amazing when you make the tough shots and he had some tough shots, we had our hands in his face a couple of times. He goes out and gets 17 points-10 rebounds and that's great numbers for one of the best defensive players in the country. He is just really good.
On why Texas is so good: I was talking about this earlier this week, they have two of the best defensive players in the country. The best defender in the country is [Dogus] Balbay and he can change a game with his defense. I think Gary Johnson can take great pride in that and the other three guys that are on the court just think "We're going to look like fools if we don't play that hard," so I think everyone just bought in to it. But they have got size and Cory Joseph has long arms.