In what should prove to be a crucial game for both ball clubs come Selection Sunday, the Texas Longhorns struggled to keep pace with the TCU Horned Frogs on Senior Day, playing from behind for much of the afternoon before falling at home, 69-56.
The first half of action provided a fairly frenetic pace, and at least until the final few minutes, a back-and-forth contest. TCU’s Alex Robinson provided the first points with a layup on the Horned Frogs’ first possession, and after Jaxson Hayes — perhaps in his final home game as a Longhorn — responded with a close-range connection of his own, Desmond Bane drilled a three to swing the score back in TCU’s favor.
The theme was set.
Less than a minute later, Matt Coleman III converted his first attempt of the game; a three-pointer to knot things up at 5-5. He and Bane exchanged buckets again, keeping things even before Kendric Davis drilled a three to pull TCU ahead, 10-9. Once again, Coleman responded, sinking a mid-range jumper, and after Hayes forced a steal, senior Dylan Osetkowski cashed in from deep to secure his first points and Texas’ first lead, 12-10.
This back-and-forth theme remained until Robinson and Elijah Mitrou-Long traded jumpers to even the score at 16-16, but then it appeared as if Texas was beginning to mount some momentum and take control.
Throughout the next three minutes, Texas found three buckets near the basket from Courtney Ramey, Hayes, and Osetkowski to cap a 6-0 run and capture a 22-16 lead.
That cushion quickly evaporated, though, as TCU’s shorthanded seven-man rotation thrived in transition, as layup after layup from Davis and Bane saw TCU snag the lead away from the Longhorns, 24-22, forcing a Texas timeout. TCU’s 8-0 run didn’t end there, as just moments later, Bane sank another triple to cap an 11-0 run.
It wasn’t until Mitrou-Long made a three wit 2:20 remaining in the first half that Texas snapped out of its scoring drought, and seemingly as soon as it did, RJ Nembhard nailed a three to keep some cushion between the two teams.
A pair of free throws from Coleman pulled Texas within five down the stretch, but that was only until JD Miller found the mark on a three as the shot clock expired and the final seconds of the half ticked away, thanks in large part to a blown coverage assignment on the inbounds.
TCU capped the half on a 19-5 run after trailing 22-16, and thus, took a 35-27 lead into intermission.
Bane led all scorers at the half with 12 points, and that was only a taste of what was to come.
After Hayes added the first two points of the second half from the free throw line, Bane knocked down another three to push TCU to the brink of a double-digit lead, 38-29, and the Horned Frogs soon crossed that threshold after Robinson found Kevin Samuel for a big-time alley-oop jam. The two connected again moments later, as Robinson and Samuel ran a perfectly-executed pick-and-roll to pave the way for a wide open slam from Samuel.
The lead was 11, 42-31, and it only continued to grow.
Bane’s career showing continued with a layup, which forced a Texas timeout ahead of the under-16 media break. A Hayes and-one opportunity brought Texas back within 10, 44-34, but the Horns were just unable slow the Horned Frogs’ offense to sneak back within single-digits.
All-the-while, as Texas struggled to stay within reach, Bane drilled another three, and then another, and then another.
By the time Bane made his sixth triple in as many tries, TCU’s lead was 64-45 with just over eight minutes remaining, and the outcome was all but decided.
“Texas won’t be the team that drops out, but they could be if they go on and lose in the 1st Round of the Big 12 Tournament,” ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi said during the broadcast as Texas trailed 58-39.
Texas did knock five points off that comfortable edge throughout the final few minutes, but TCU still cruised to a 13-point win, 69-56, dropping Texas to 16-15 on the season behind its fourth loss in five games.
Bane led all scorers with a career-high 34 points behind a 6-of-8 effort from deep. The rest of TCU’s starting cast contributed only 21 points.
Texas, on the other hand, saw three starters cracked double-digits in the scoring column, as Hayes led the way with 19 points, while Coleman and Ramey added 12 points and 11 points, respectively. Osetkowski produced nine points and two rebounds during his final effort on the Forty Acres, but aside from Mitrou Long’s five points the rest of Texas’ roster remained scoreless and shot 0-of-8 from the field.
This story will be updated.