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Felix leads Longhorns past Smart-less Cowboys

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AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys were both missing pieces as they faced off in a mid-week Big 12 game.

Texas’ remaining pieces proved far superior.

Longhorns guard Javan Felix poured in 27 points to propel No. 19 Texas past Oklahoma State 87-68 on Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.

“You definitely have a rhythm and I felt that,” Felix said.

Felix hit 6 of 8 3-pointers and the Longhorns were 11 of 23 overall from 3-point range as they ran away from Oklahoma State early and never looked back.

Texas (19-5, 8-3 Big12) was missing forward Jonathan Holmes, the Longhorns’ leading scorer at 13.1 points per game.

With that offensive production out of the lineup, Texas coach Rick Barnes said he emphasized to his team that they shouldn’t pass up open shots.

“We shot the ball well obviously because we took shots,” Barnes said. “The past two games we’ve gotten too hesitant, dribbling the ball too much. I told every guy on our team, when we’re running our offense I expect guys to take the shots they practice.”

Texas’ balanced offense shined through the absence of Holmes, who suffered a knee injury against Kansas State on Saturday. Longhorns guard Isaiah Taylor scored 16 and had five assists, reserve guard Martez Walker had 12 and center Cameron Ridely had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

That helped Texas bounce back from a 17-point loss at Kansas State on Saturday and stay in the hunt for a Big 12 championship, a game back of conference-leading Kansas.

Forward Le’Bryan Nash led Oklahoma State with 23 points, but the Cowboys (16-8, 4-7) still lost their fifth straight and face two more games without Smart.

Oklahoma was playing its first game without guard Marcus Smart, who was given a three-game suspension by the Big 12 after he shoved a fan near the end of the Cowboys’ 65-61 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday.

Smart fouled Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett on a dunk attempt with 6.2 seconds remaining. After hitting the ground hard, Smart was visibly agitated by something Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr said. Smart went a row into the stands to shove Orr.

However, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford refused to blame the loss on Smart’s absence. Instead he credited his team for playing hard, though they could not stop Texas from making key shots.

“This has nothing to do with Marcus Smart,” Ford said. “He wasn’t here tonight. We have to play with what we’ve got. To be honest with you, I don’t even want to talk about it.”

Still, without Smart in the lineup for the first time this season, Oklahoma State struggled to keep up with Texas in the first half.

Felix revved up the Longhorns’ marathon 27-7 run in the first half, hitting jumpers on three consecutive trips down the floor, two of them from beyond the 3-point arc.

Felix’s second 3-pointer in the surge gave Texas a 36-14 lead.

“I know I can make those shots,” Felix said. “It’s just a matter of me taking them. That’s something my teammates got on me about was passing up shots. That’s something I tried to not do tonight.”

Texas effectively buried the Cowboys from long distance in the first 20 minutes, sinking eight 3-pointers.

Felix, who scored 16 first-half point, made 4 of 6 3-pointers before the break. Texas forward Connor Lammert hit three of five, and Walker added another on his only attempt of the first half.

“We wanted to contest every jump shot,” Oklahoma State center Kamari Murphy said. “They started out on a hot streak and we had to make some adjustments. We waited too late. We waited until the second half to play the way we know how to play defense.”

Texas shot 49 percent in the first half to Oklahoma State’s 32 percent, boosting the Longhorns to a 54-33 halftime lead.

NOTES: Oklahoma State G Marcus Smart, who sat out the first game of his three-game suspension, dominated the teams’ first meeting this season, posting 24 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists. The Cowboys won 87-74 in Stillwater, Okla. … Texas snapped Oklahoma State’s four-game winning streak in the

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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