Stillwater, Olka. Before his team played No. 9 Texas, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford knew only a few things about Jordan Hamilton.
The freshman swingman had played only 2 minutes in the Longhorns’ loss at Baylor two days earlier — a game that went into overtime. Now, Ford knows so much more.
Hamilton scored a career-high 27 points and Texas finally slowed down James Anderson in the second half to beat Oklahoma State, 72-60, on Monday night.
“We have seen him go off,” Ford said after admitting Hamilton wasn’t heavily scouted. “We did know every time he touches it, he’s going to shoot it. Every single time he touches it, he’s going to shoot it. We know that and we talked about it.”
And most every time Hamilton shot it, he made it.
Hamilton finished 11-for-16 from the field and made five of his eight three-point attempts to surpass his previous scoring high by 10 points.
“Jordan is really learning how to play now,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “His idea has been shoot — which he should, you know, he’s a good offensive player — but he’s got to understand when the shots are there. Because he’s so competitive, if he misses a shot, he wants to get it and go try to make up for it. He’s got a scorer’s mentality.
“We know he can do what he did tonight, but the thing that pleased us most tonight was he really tried to play on the defensive end.”
After mostly sitting on the bench in the Longhorns’ last game, Hamilton said he had a pregame meeting with Barnes and assistant coach Russell Springmann.
“They just told me if I played hard, I’m going to be on the court,” Hamilton said.
The results were just what the Longhorns (19-3, 5-2 Big 12) needed, having lost three of their previous four games after reaching No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history. They got back on track Monday, winning in a building that’s been a house of horrors for Texas teams with top-10 rankings.
Texas had lost the last three times it brought a top-10 ranking into Gallagher-Iba Arena. This time, the Longhorns fell behind by 11 in the first half before Hamilton got going.
“You’ve got to have a little pain. You’ve got to have a little adversity to get some attention,” Barnes said. “I think he realized that he had to do this. We had gotten to the point in the season where we couldn’t talk about it anymore.”
Hamilton scored all but two of his points in the final 22 minutes and put the game away with a three-pointer from the right wing with 2:19 remaining that gave Texas a 13-point lead. Damion James added 14 points and Avery Bradley scored 10 as the Longhorns snapped Oklahoma State’s 16-game home winning streak.
“A great team like Texas, they just pick and choose your weapons: ‘Let’s try him. See how he does,”’ Ford said. “And Rick does a great job of managing those players, and they played really well tonight.”