In late January, Texas traveled to Fort Worth and came out with a 62-61 victory over TCU, one of only four conference wins in 12 games for head coach Shaka Smart’s team. Since then, the Horns have lost four of the last five games as injuries have mounted.
Junior forward Jericho Sims (back), sophomore forward Gerald Liddell (back), and junior guard Jase Febres (knee) are all out for the game, but Smart was hopeful on Monday that junior guard Matt Coleman (bruised heel) will be available.
For a team that has struggled with its mental and physical toughness all season, the emotional response was poor on Saturday — Iowa State jumped out on Texas early and the Longhorns never challenged the Cyclones.
“When you take a couple guys out of the equation I think that may have impacted our guys to some extent,” Smart said. “That’s something that we tried to battle going into the game — I thought our guys prepared, I mean they were really, really excited Saturday morning. But when the game started the way that the game started, the way they went inside and did a great job attacking with Young and Jacobson, really got out of the blocks really well, I think some of our guys got demoralized, a little frustrated, and our job as a team is to stay together, stay connected. We didn’t do a good enough job of doing that.”
Fortunately for Texas, TCU is struggling this year, too — the Horned Frogs have lost eight of the last 10 games and only have one true road victory all season.
Head coach Jamie Dixon’s team does lead the Big 12 in three-pointers made per game (8.6) and second in assists per game (14.9), so the Longhorns defense will need to limit the Horned Frogs in both areas. In Fort Worth, TCU only made 6-of-17 shots from beyond the arc (35.3 percent) compared to 11-of-22 shooting by Texas. Febres made five of those baskets and led the Horns in scoring with 15 points, so someone else will have to pick up the slack on Wednesday.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network. Texas has a 64-percent win probability, according to KenPom.com, with a projected margin of 63-59.