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Oklahoma basketball: Je'lon Hornbeak maintains family ties

Sooner freshman stays in touch with his close friend, Baylor freshman Isaiah Austin. But the two will be on opposite sides Wednesday night when the Bears and Sooners meet.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM, Staff Writer, skuzydym@opubco.com Published: January 29, 2013
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photo - COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT / OU: Oklahoma's Je'lon Hornbeak  looks to pass the ball as A&M's Alex Caruso defends during the All-College Classic between the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M at the  Chesapeake Energy Arena in  Oklahoma City, Saturday,Dec. 15, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT / OU: Oklahoma's Je'lon Hornbeak looks to pass the ball as A&M's Alex Caruso defends during the All-College Classic between the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday,Dec. 15, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

— Right after Oklahoma's loss to Kansas on Saturday, Sooner freshman Je'lon Hornbeak received a message from Isaiah Austin, Baylor's standout freshman center.

“Go get the next one,” it said.

Hornbeak's “next one” is Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Waco, Texas, against Austin and Baylor. It's the first game the friends have played against each other since before they were high school teammates at Dallas' Grace Academy.

“We always tell each other, ‘Hey, go get the W,'” Hornbeak said. “Even though the next one is against him ... we're not enemies. When we get on the court, we're not going to like each other. That's just the way we are. But off the court, we (are) still brothers.”

It's normal for the two to offer each other advice or encouragement.

Hornbeak's mother, Sheila, said her son is always calling coaches and players for advice on how to get better.

“I think Je'lons that type of guy,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “That's part of who he is.”

But the person Hornbeak talks to daily is Austin.

“Basketball wise if he watches a game and sees something, he'll tell me something and if I watch a game and I see something, I'll tell him something,” Hornbeak said. “It's brotherly. It's like me and Isaiah Cousins and Buddy (Hield) — how we are is the same way with him. We can get on each other and it really doesn't matter.”

Austin and Hornbeak have been friends since they were in the sixth grade, when Austin moved to Texas from Minnesota. They played on the same AAU team and played one on one — a 6-foot-3 guard vs. a 7-1 center.

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Oklahoma at Baylor

*When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

*Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas

*TV: ESPNU (Cox 253/HD 718; Dish 141; DirecTV 208; U-Verse 605/HD 1605)

*Radio: KOKC-AM 1520

Three things to know

*Oklahoma leads the all-time series 37-10, but Baylor has won five of the last seven.

*Baylor freshman Isaiah Austin has recorded seven double-doubles this season. That ranks second in the Big 12.

*Baylor senior Pierre Jackson leads the league at 18.7 points per game. He has scored in double figures in 26 consecutive games dating to last season.

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