The No. 22 Texas Longhorns (21-10, 10-8 Big 12) are in Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament hoping to defend last season’s title, beginning with a quarterfinal matchup at the T-Mobile Center against the TCU Horned Frogs (19-11, 8-10 Big 12).
Texas head coach Chris Beard is angling for his first win in Kansas City in four years and his second all-time win in the Big 12 Tournament by overcoming a TCU team the Longhorns have already beat twice this season — a 73-50 blowout in Fort Worth in front of the largest home crowd in school history and a 75-66 win in Austin that required a comeback from a double-digit deficit in the second half.
The first win featured one of the most complete games of the season for the Longhorns as Texas shot 44.4 percent from three-point range and scored 22 points from 16 turnovers, along with 22 fast-break points, a remarkably high number for a team that rarely scores in transition.
Senior forward Timmy Allen led the way offensively with 16 points, one of four Texas players in double digits, consistently getting open on cuts off the ball, and adding eight rebounds, a block, and a steal. At the guard position, seniors Courtney Ramey, Marcus Carr, and Andrew Jones combined to score 37 points in efficient performances. When all three play well, Texas is hard to beat.
In Austin, Jones scored 21 points, his third consecutive game of 20 points or more, as Texas outscored TCU 37-18 over the final 13-plus minutes. The Longhorns finished the game with a 29-11 advantage in free-throw attempts, took seven more shots thanks to 14 offensive rebounds, scored 38 points in the paint, and converted 17 Horned Frogs turnovers into 30 points.
Allen is trying to bounce back from one of his worst games of the season, a 2-of-15 shooting performance in Saturday’s overtime loss at Kansas that also included three turnovers. Since TCU doesn’t possess the kind of length and athleticism in its frontcourt that has bothered the undersized forward all season, he’s performed well against the Horned Frogs in both previous games and should play well on Thursday.
Jones believes that Ramey could be the key after another stellar performance limiting Kansas star Ochai Agbaji and a strong offensive showing with 18 points against the Jayhawks.
“Courtney was out there playing (against Kansas) literally like it was his last game of the season,” Jones said. “If we get him to play with that urgency in the postseason, I think he’s gonna be a big spark for us going forward.”
Beard wants his team to finally put together a complete performance in preparation for the NCAA Tournament.
“If you’re going to win games this month and if you’re going to advance in this tournament and the next tournament, you’ve got to play your best,” Beard said in Kansas City. “We’ve played some good basketball this year. I think we’re one of the best teams in the country. But we’ve yet to play a full 40. I think in this tournament, if we’re going to get to the championship game, we’re going to have to play a full 40.”
Texas has won seven straight and 24 of the last 31 meetings with TCU and boasts a 64-percent win probability for Thursday’s game, according to KenPom.com, with a projected score of 65-61.
How to Watch
Time: 11:30 a.m. Central
Radio: Texassports.com affiliates
Odds: The Longhorns are five-point favorites over the Horned Frogs, according to DraftKings.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.