Texas basketball vs. OU: 3 bold predictions for the Big 12 opener

Grant Sherfield Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Grant Sherfield Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

In less than 24 hours, No. 6 ranked Texas basketball and acting head coach Rodney Terry will tip off the Big 12 slate in an important matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry game on the hardwood. Texas will look to extend its winning streak to five games with a win over the Sooners.

A win over the Sooners would also give the Longhorns four straight wins in this series on the hardwood.

Texas comes into Big 12 play with a record of 11-1 (0-0 Big 12) following a convincing 97-72 win over the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions on Dec. 27. Terry and the Longhorns rounded out the non-conference slate (outside of the Big 12/SEC Challenge) on a high note with four straight wins, three of which came by double-digit margins.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma had a bit of a bumpier road on the court during the non-conference slate, putting up a record of 9-3 (0-0 Big 12), including a bad loss to Sam Houston State in the opener last month.

Texas does come into the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma as a slight 2.5-point favorite. So, Vegas clearly thinks this will be a close one between Texas and Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve.

Bold predictions for Marcus Carr and No. 6 Texas basketball against Grant Sherfield and OU

Here’s a look at three bold predictions as Texas gets set to square off against Oklahoma in Red River for the conference opener in Norman on Dec. 31.

Tyrese Hunter scores 20 points for the first time since the Gonzaga game

Sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter really hit a dry spell thus far in December. After getting off to a hot start in the first month of the regular season with the Longhorns, Hunter saw his scoring get more than cut in half thus far through the December slate. He averaged an impressive 16.2 points per game in November, compared to just 7.7 points per game in December.

Hunter also saw his shooting percentages dip dramatically month-over-month. He shot 56.6 percent from the field in November and 33.3 percent from the field in December.

It looks like Hunter’s poor scoring performances are primarily due to two reasons. First and foremost, he’s started to take a pass-first approach more often in the last few games. That is evident by the fact that his assists per game more than doubled month-over-month thus far in December.

Hunter is looking to give up the ball more often to some of his teammates that are shooting better from the field and from deep of late, such as guards Marcus Carr and Arterio Morris.

The second reason is that Hunter is occasionally taking more contested shots when he isn’t in a good rhythm. Since more of the open shots in the last few games are being taken by the likes of Carr, Morris, Timmy Allen, etc., Hunter is left with more of the difficult shots late in the shot clock.

However, the start of Big 12 play could serve as a turning point for Hunter. Texas will need more high-level offensive production out of him in the next few games as the schedule ramps up in terms of the difficulty of Big 12 play.

It also bodes well for Hunter and the Longhorns that he was so good against the Sooners last season. When he was a freshman playing for the Iowa State Cyclones last season, Hunter averaged an insane 30.5 points per game in two outings against Oklahoma.

This looks like a big opportunity for Hunter to bounce back to start off the conference slate.