The timing was perfect for Joe Dumars’ talk with the Texas basketball program.
The NBA executive addressed the No. 6 Longhorns this week ahead of Saturday’s Big 12 matchup against Oklahoma in Austin, Texas.
“How you handle failure, a setback, a loss is imperative to greatness because you’re not getting there without going through failure and setbacks,” Dumars said in a video address.
Texas is coming off a 74-67 defeat at Texas Tech on Monday.
Dumars’ message resonated with the Longhorns, who started off 17-3 before going 3-3 over their past six.
“In this sport and especially in life, your life is going to be determined by how you handle failure,” Texas forward Brock Cunningham said. “We’re coming off a loss and we’re getting better and we’re moving into this next game, but we’ll be better coming out on Saturday.”
Despite their recent struggles, Texas (20-6, 9-4 Big 12) comes into the Saturday game tied with No. 5 Kansas and No. 9 Baylor atop the conference standings.
The Longhorns began conference play with a 70-69 win over the Sooners on Dec. 31 in Norman, Okla. In that contest, Texas’ Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr each scored 13 as part of a balanced effort.
In the six-game stretch before Monday’s loss, Allen averaged 13.8 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor.
Against the Red Raiders, Allen missed all four of his shots and tied his season low with two points.
Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said Allen “got great looks” against the Texas Tech.
“Just wasn’t his night in terms of the ball going in the basket,” Terry said, “but I thought he had great leadership and continued to encourage the guys on the floor. You are not gonna make shots every night. When you don’t, you have gotta try to lock down and guard.”
While the Longhorns are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss, the Sooners are hoping to build some momentum after snapping a four-game losing streak — and a seven-game Big 12 skid — with a 79-65 home victory over No. 12 Kansas State on Tuesday.
The last time Oklahoma pulled off a stunning victory at home, blowing out then-No. 2 Alabama 93-69 on Jan. 28, the Sooners followed it up with a 10-point loss to Oklahoma State and then a 32-point defeat at West Virginia.
“When we got another big win and beat ‘Bama, I feel like we didn’t respond well the game after,” senior Grant Sherfield said. “I feel like we just can’t be too high. We’ve got to put (Tuesday’s victory) in the bank, and we’ve gotta get ready for the next one.”
Oklahoma (13-13, 3-10) still has faint NCAA Tournament hopes but will need to finish exceptionally strong against a tough schedule to have a chance.
Sooners coach Porter Moser said the win earlier in the week gave his team not only another line on its resume, but also a much-needed emotional lift.
“They needed that belief in their work, and they needed that reward,” Moser said. “A lot of things can happen in February and March.”
Texas has won the past four meetings with the Sooners. Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between the rivals at the Longhorns’ new home, Moody Center.
–Field Level Media