Conference struggles for the Texas Longhorns continued Wednesday as head coach Shaka Smart’s team could not overcome offensive miscues, falling to the TCU Horned Frogs 65-61 in Fort Worth.
The Longhorns had a shot to tie the game late, down three with 6.6 seconds left on the clock and a chance to inbound the ball. Junior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long forced a shot with two players in his face that went off of the top of the backboard, sealing the game after multiple fouls committed by TCU complicated efforts for a game-tying shot.
Texas found itself in that situation thanks to a 2-for-8 shooting performance and three turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second half. TCU took advantage of the sloppy play, building a 12-point lead after heading into halftime up 35-31.
Back-to-back second-chance dunks from senior forward Dylan Osetkowski, four of his nine points on the day, followed by a Mitrou-Long three-pointer pointer closed the gap to 48-43 with 11:21 led on the clock.
In spite of closing the gap to one possession five times in the game’s closing 10 minutes, Texas never managed to complete the comeback, in part because of two bad turnovers in the final seconds. After senior guard Kerwin Roach II threw the ball out of bounds on a drive with 1:32 remaining, sophomore guard Jase Febres attempted to corral a long rebound from a three-point shot, but lost it out of bounds 17 seconds later.
Down by five at the time, those two mistakes loomed large, along with the 17 total turnovers and 14 offensive rebounds allowed.
Roach had done his best to keep Texas in the game late, scoring a quick five points to make it 56-54 with under six to play. Roach finished the game with a team-leading 15 points, along with four rebounds and three assists.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Freshman phenom Jaxson Hayes had a solid outing against the Horned Frogs, scoring 10 points on a 4-6 shooting performance with six rebounds. Sophomore guard Matt Coleman struggled with ball security, turning the ball over four times, while scoring just three points and dishing out three assists — as Smart likes to say, beating Big 12 opponents requires out-playing opposing guards and that didn’t happen thanks to the poor outing from Coleman.
With the loss, Texas falls to 3-4 in conference play and 11-8 overall, leaving a lot of work ahead in order to prove its worth to the NCAA Tournament selection committee with 11 conference games left.
Before they diving back into Big 12 play, Texas will take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in Athens as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.