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Texas Falls Short in Norman, 67-69

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Feb 23, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Texas Longhorns forward Jaxson Hayes (10) guard Courtney Ramey (3) and Oklahoma Sooners center Jamuni McNeace (4) reach for the ball during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas faced off against Oklahoma in a game that had two contrasting halves. Oklahoma dominated the first, while Texas controlled the second. But the Longhorns’ efforts were not enough to complete a comeback after trailing by as many as 17 early in the second half. With Texas already dealing with the potential season suspension of Kerwin Roach II due to the violation of team rules, the Longhorns had to adjust their approach.

First Half:

Texas struggled in the first half, being the inferior team in most of the statistical categories. Most notably Texas had 7 turnovers in the first half compared to the 3 turnovers for Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a strong team, as they had a 15-5 record before losing 5 out of their last 6. Texas, although 4-2 in their last 6 games, have played inconsistently throughout the season. The first half indicated that Texas was going to get blown out, inconsistent with their win last weekend. The Longhorns could not get anything going in the paint in this half, scoring only 4 points compared to Oklahoma’s 23 first half points in the paint. Texas was also out-rebounded 20-13 in the first half, showcasing that the effort was not consistent. At the end of the half, Texas seemed lucky to have a 14-point deficit at 42-28.

Second Half:

Texas began the second half by conceding a dunk to Oklahoma. This seemed to be the same team from the first half. Then, they seemed to turn on a light switch. Without their leading scorer Kerwin Roach II, Texas big men Jaxson Hayes and Dylan Osetkowski stepped up, finishing second efforts and playing well on both ends of the ball. Hayes and Osetkowski finished with 6 rebounds each, while Hayes was clutch with 6 blocks on the day. The guards also had solid performances. Matt Coleman III finished with 11 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals, and Courtney Ramey finished with 11 points and 2 steals. Jase Febres made the greatest impact in the second half, scoring multiple late three-pointers to finish with 15 points. Texas missed two opportunities to tie or go ahead with less than 30 seconds left. Despite this heartbreaking loss, the effort is promising.

Negatives for Texas:

NCAA Tournament Résumé – The team is not helping their NCAA Tournament résumé with another loss. With a record of 15-12, they need to win most all of their remaining games and need to make a run in the Big 12 Tournament to make a case for a spot in the Big Dance. The Longhorns have impressive wins against Kansas and North Carolina from earlier in the season, but they need to impress the NCAA more than that to play postseason ball.

Team Effort – Texas has not played a full 40 minutes. The team either comes out flat and have to play catch up, or they get complacent with a lead. In the second half, the Longhorns showed resilience in their comeback efforts. But, if the team was aggressive in the first half, it would have made a comeback much more reasonable.

Kerwin Roach II – Kerwin Roach’s behavior needs to be considered moving forward. Although we do not know what exactly he did, this is his second team-violation of the season, brings into question his decision-making and behavior off the court. Roach is a key piece to this multi-faceted Longhorns’ team, but he needs to be the mature leader the team needs him to be. Texas’ leading scorer has the potential to make an impact, as he is an integral piece to the squad. He may need to think more about the team than himself down the stretch.

Positives for Texas:

Texas Fight – Texas showed fight and resilience in a game where they could have rolled over in. While the team trailed by as much as 17 in the second half (33-50), Texas gave themselves a chance to tie or win with less than a minute remaining. If Shaka Smart can hold onto this tenacious mentality, the Longhorns have a chance to cause problems in March.

Jaxson Hayes – Jaxson Hayes keeps getting better and better. Although he got into foul trouble, he played a key role in the second half comeback. His 12 points (5-6 field goals), 6 rebounds and 6 blocks on the night displayed the impressive skills of Hayes. His team seems to rally around his success, as he and Dylan Osetkowski (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists) created a troubling tandem underneath for Oklahoma to deal with. The success of these two will be important to utilize to expose inside defenses of upcoming opponents.

Febres on Fire – Jase Febres has found his touch from earlier in the season. Although he has spells when he is stone cold, he can find his touch at any moment. Two late three-pointers brought Texas within striking distance and warranted why he takes so many shots from deep (5-15 3-point field goals). If Febres continues to be effective from behind the arc, he will cause trouble in the Big 12 tournament.

Texas has a lot to work on, but if the team can adapt to a tenacious mindset, they will look better as the season concludes.

The Longhorns look to bounce back at Baylor on Wednesday night, 8 PM CST.

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