Aggressive Texas, Jones stifles Oklahoma in 66-52 win
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Aggressive Texas, Jones stifles Oklahoma in 66-52 win

Joe Cook15 days
Article written by:Joe CookJoe Cook

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Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

Texas head coach Chris Beard preached aggressiveness to his No. 21-ranked team all week on the heels of a loss to Oklahoma State, so much so that he asked for another word for aggressiveness from media gathered at his postgame press conference to offer some variety.

“Assertiveness?” one reporter offered.

“Assertiveness,” Beard responded with a smile.

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Texas was assertive and aggressive from the jump against the Oklahoma Sooners. Texas played stiff team defense, while Andrew Jones added a season-high 22 points in a 66-52 victory to improve to 13-3 and 3-1 in the Big 12.

“We were really locked down on the scouting report,” Jones said. “We were active. We were rotating. We were forcing a lot of turnovers and it allowed us to show our talent and get out and run.”

The Longhorns showcased those traits even in the opening minute, when Courtney Ramey recorded a block to set the tone. It was part of a defensive effort that held OU to a season low in points, right in line with what Texas’ No. 1 scoring defense typically allows.

Ramey and the rest of the Texas rotation held the Sooners scoreless for six minutes midway through the first half. Meanwhile, the Longhorns went on a 9-0 run to take a 17-6 thanks to Jones and Christian Bishop.

Jones had his fingerprints all over the game. He had 12 points, two steals, and a block in the first half. He added two steals in the first 20 minutes, and finished with four total. He even blocked a shot against the backboard, showing off his athleticism.

That block against the backboard with just under 10 minutes left in the first half excited Beard. He gave Jones a celebratory shove heading into the timeout just after the play.

“That’s the toughest guy in Irving popping arguably the second-toughest guy there,” Beard said.

Ramey was part of the effort, adding eight in the first 20 minutes. Texas entered halftime up 33-21.

Proof of Texas’ aggression? They made it to the free throw line nine times in the first half, more times than they made it to the stripe in the entire game versus Oklahoma State. They made six, more than the five they made in their last contest. Texas finished 18-for-24 from the line.

The Horns played in a way that delighted Beard on the defensive end. The Longhorns had a game plan for Sooners leading scorer Tanner Groves, denying him the ball in the post by fronting him, limiting his looks outside, and forcing his teammates to score. Groves scored a season-low three points.

“We just wanted to be the most aggressive team and do what we could to make it difficult on him tonight,” Jones said.

Tanner’s brother, Jacob, scored 10 points while Jalen Hill led the Sooners with 13 points.

When Tanner got into foul trouble late in the first half, it made the second aspect of Texas’ defensive game plan even more potent.

Texas threw several different full-pressures at Oklahoma the entire forty minutes. The Longhorns didn’t force any ten second violations, but the limited shot clock OU had for most half-court possessions made life difficult for the visitors.

OU head coach Porter Moser recognized what Texas’ strategy was on some of its pressures and tried to make adjustments, but Beard responded with different looks that lead to several of the 17 Sooner turnovers. Texas scored 14 points off those turnovers.

Oklahoma turned the ball over on 30 percent of its first-half possessions, nine in total.

“I thought tonight the players deserve all the credit,” Beard said. “They executed it, but I liked our game plan. They were aggressive.”

While Oklahoma figured things out a bit more on offense as the game progressed, Texas kept the ball rolling on the offensive end itself and won the second 20 minutes 33-31.

Jones finished with his 22 points and was joined in double figures by Ramey, Bishop, and Timmy Allen. Each added 10 points. Marcus Carr fell one shy of double digits with nine points, but dished a game-high five assists.

Tre Mitchell totaled two minutes in his return from health and safety protocols. Jase Febres did not play in an effort to get his body fresh for the upcoming middle part of the Big 12 schedule, according to Beard.

Texas heads to Ames, Iowa this weekend to face the No. 15 Iowa State Cyclones. Just like Tuesday night, the Longhorns will need to remain aggressive to walk out of Hilton Coliseum with a win.

“They know that,” Beard said. “But it’s one thing knowing it. It’s another thing going out there and doing it. That’s the deal. We’ve got veteran players. They understand.”

Their attempt to do it tips at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.