Texas has put themselves on the bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament. After losing three out of their last four, the Longhorns needed a win to break out of their slump and establish themselves as a tournament team. The team did not show up today, as they played down to the level of their opponent. After playing with a high tempo and showing a positive game plan early on, Texas reverted back to inconsistency.
Although Texas did showcase a poor performance, TCU played a strong game that helped their NCAA tournament résumé. TCU’s success was highlight by Desmond Bane’s 34 points and 70% shooting from the field. The Horned Frogs also finished with 35 rebounds to Texas’ 24, showcasing their dominance on the boards.
Texas started the game keeping the score close for most of the time, until both teams were eventually tied 16-16. With three early lead changes, Texas showed a high offensive tempo to match the speed of the TCU attack. Following momentous plays by Jaxson Hayes and Dylan Osetkowski, Texas looked like they would begin to run away with the game by the middle of the first half, extending their lead to 6 points at 22-16. Highlighted by great passing and reasonably diversified looks, Texas was moving in the right direction to help themselves dominate the remainder of the game.
But following a TCU timeout, the entire script of the game was flipped. TCU finished the rest of the half with a 19-5 run, led by junior guard Desmond Bane’s career-best performance. JD Miller of TCU ended the half nailing a three-pointer to make the score 35-27 in favor of TCU. While this was a manageable deficit to recover from, the effort exhibited by the Longhorns reverted to that of their negative performances, which typically result in losses.
The wheels fell off the wagon for Texas in the second half. The fast tempo and effectiveness of the Longhorns’ offense in the first half disappeared in the second half. The team had questionable shot selection and were clearly getting out rebounded. TCU also started the half off strong, extending their lead to 11 points almost immediately. Texas responded to this with a Hayes layup to make the score 40-31, but they were not able to get within 10 points after that.
Once TCU extended their lead to double digits, Texas could not claw their way back. The Longhorns trailed by as many as 20 points. Although a Big 12 comeback of nearly 20 points has happened this season (Baylor against Texas), Texas is not mentally tough enough to persevere through a comeback of that magnitude. The Longhorns were going through the motions and allowing Bane to take wide open shots all over the floor. This lackluster effort by the team epitomized the Longhorns’ struggle to stay engaged, something they have battled with all season. Texas finished the game getting within 13 points, with the scoreline finishing 69-56.
Texas Shot Themselves in the Foot. – Shaka Smart and the Longhorns have put themselves in a scenario where they may not make the NCAA Tournament. With a record of 16-15, only their wins against ranked opponents have them in consideration to make the tournament. Only a win against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament can ensure their ticket into March Madness. Shaka Smart needs to prepare his guys for a matchup against the Jayhawks with major implications on not only the postseason, but also Shaka Smart’s future.
Hayes’ Big Day Overlooked by Poor Performance. – The only silver lining in this embarrassing loss for the Longhorns was Jaxon Hayes’ performance. He had a career high in scoring with 19 points and managed to corral 7 rebounds on the day. With Hayes’ athleticism and scoring abilities, he needs to be given the ball more to create a threat underneath. If Texas can properly utilize him, they can be successful in the Big 12 Tournament.
Texas’ Shooting was Appalling. – Texas finished the night shooting 37.3% from the field. Compared to the 54% that TCU shot, that is terrible. The shot selection was not impressive by the Longhorns, and the ball movement regressed throughout the second half. The shot selection resulted in a three-point field goal percentage of 21.1% for Texas, and most notably no field goals made for Jase Febres. Febres, who was on the floor for 30 minutes, only took five shots, and he made none of them. As one of the Big 12’s best shooters, Febres needs to take more than five shots per game. Shaka Smart should have told his guys during halftime to feed Febres the ball more. Instead, the team struggled finding an offensive groove, and forced bad shots for most of the game.
Shaka Smart and the Longhorns have a lot to prepare for leading up to the Big 12 Tournament. In a must-win scenario, Texas is slated to play Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday, March 14th at 7 PM CST, televised on ESPN2.
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