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Longhorns Slip in Lubbock

The world did not end in Lubbock. The #5 Longhorns (24-5, 11-3) did lose a game, though, and will now need help to win an outright Big XII title. Texas Tech (16-12, 7-7) took down the Longhorns, 83-80, to improve their impressive home record to 6-1 in conference play.

First off, congratulations to the Red Raiders. They played hard, executed their offense efficiently, rebounded better than expected, and, most importantly, knocked down their free throws with the game on the line. Texas did not shoot the ball well nor did they defend the Tech motion offense effectively, but, to me, this was more about Tech winning this game than Texas losing it.

What does it all mean? Well, Texas is now just a half game up on Kansas with the Jayhawks hosting Kansas State this evening. Assuming that Kansas wins tonight, KU and Texas would be tied at the top of the Big XII at 11-3 with two games to go. Texas hosts Nebraska on Tuesday and Oklahoma State on Sunday. Meanwhile, Kansas finishes with Texas Tech at home on Monday and at Texas A&M on Saturday. Depending on which Aggie team shows up on Wednesday in Waco, Texas A&M may be playing their final regular season game against KU just to get to .500 in conference. In my opinion, Texas has the easier final week but just slightly. It is more likely that both teams will finish at 13-3 and share the conference title. If that is the case, Texas would still be awarded the #1 seed in the Big XII tournament and could potentially avoid both Kansas and Kansas State until the tournament final. This is significant because this year’s tourney will be held in Kansas City.

As far as the NCAA tournament, this loss makes achieving a #1 seed in any region very, very difficult. The ACC winner, Memphis, Tennessee, and UCLA all look to be ahead of Texas at this point. Now, there is still a full week left plus the conference tournaments, so anything can and likely will happen. Texas just needs to keep on winning by getting back to playing lock-down defense, taking better shots on offense, and practicing sinking meaningful free throws. This loss does not ruin an entire season, nor should it raise too many questions about this team going forward. Like in the Missouri game, Texas ran into a fired up opponent that played and shot the ball at a high level and fed off their home crowd.

I will forgo the usual recap format and just make a few additional points.

We did not lose this game in the final possession. The fact that this game came down to a final possession shows the true character of this team. The Horns could have easily folded down 12 points in the final minutes. They did not. Texas fought hard the rest of the way on both ends. Unfortunately, Tech was outstanding from the line and Texas couldn’t recover from a very deep hole.

Foul trouble killed us. Justin Mason and Connor Atchley sat out most of the first half with two fouls each. Without Mason’s grit, the defense struggled and without Connor, the offense turned stagnant. Clint Chapman, Alexis Wangmene, and Dexter Pittman all provided largely hollow minutes off the bench. Even Gary Johnson was off today. Our bench has developed nicely over the last couple of months and has saved the Longhorns in a few games. This afternoon, though, the bench play was poor. Also, it sure would have been nice to have AJ or Damion on the floor in that last possession.

DJ Augustin played well but not as well as his 30 points would indicate. He had at least five turnovers, took contested shots, and finished with just a handful of assists. It was obvious from the start that a lot of the Longhorns were cold, but DJ still could have done a better job of getting easy looks for his teammates. Don’t get me wrong, the only reason we were in the game was because of his offense. I just want to point out that Texas is a tougher team to defend when we have a more balanced scoring attack.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Don’t have much time this evening and will be working tomorrow. I am very disappointed but am quickly realizing that all our goals are still out there.

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