After missing an opportunity to keep pace with the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks in Saturday’s loss to the No. 7 Baylor Bears in Waco, the No. 9 Texas Longhorns travel to Fort Worth on Wednesday to play the No. 22 TCU Horned Frogs facing a must-win game.
With the regular-season finale in Austin looming on Saturday, the Longhorns need a victory against the Horned Frogs to have a chance at sharing the regular-season conference title with the Jayhawks by winning this weekend.
Texas has won eight of the last nine games against TCU, including the last three in Fort Worth, and 25 of the last 33 overall, but the Horned Frogs are a solid team at home this season with a 12-4 record. However, only one home win has come over a ranked opponent — an 82-68 victory over then-No. 11 Kansas State back in mid-January.
Forward Dylan Disu is coming off his best performance at Texas, scoring a season-high 24 points against Baylor on 10-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range, in 26 minutes on Saturday.
“Offensively, he’s really stepped it up over the course of Big 12 play scoring the basketball for us,” interim head coach Rodney Terry said. “We’ve had a lot of teams try to trap Marcus (Carr) in ball screens and Dylan has been great in the short roll, whether he’s making the right decision with the pass or scoring the ball himself.”
Terry has also emphasized the need for Disu to serve as a floor-stretching threat from beyond the arc. The Vanderbilt transfer shot 36.9 percent from three in his final season with the Commodores before struggling last year at 13.3 percent in his return from the knee injury that ended his time in Nashville. With a full offseason for Disu to work on his shot, he’s back up to 33.3 percent this season and Terry wants him to make one or two threes a game for the Longhorns.
“Over the last couple games there have been a couple of times I’ve kind of gotten on him a little bit, ‘Hey, you got to shoot the ball, you’re open. It may be the best the best look we get in that position and that possession you got to take that shot,’” Terry said.
Disu was a key contributor in the 79-75 comeback win for the Longhorns over the Horned Frogs in Austin in January, scoring 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting to help make up for a 5-of-16 shooting performance from Carr, who was sensational early in conference play before opponents decided to change their ball-screen coverage against him.
Against TCU in Fort Worth, the key for Texas will be limiting transition opportunities for the Horned Frogs, who like to get out in the open court — Terry said the Longhorns did three different transition drills in practice to prepare for the speed of head coach Jamie Dixon’s team.
“Transition defense is the number one key in this game against TCU. They’re the fastest team in college basketball up the floor,” Terry said.
Pick-and-roll defense has also been a point of emphasis and an area where Terry has seen improvement in recent weeks.
“We struggled with that earlier in the season,” Terry said. “We’re just going a good job in the initial pick-and-roll action and also having the guys with our tags behind the pick-and-roll situation doing a great job for us as well, but we’ve been drilled in that area.”
Offensively, Terry understands the Longhorns need to be strong with the basketball because the Horned Frogs have active hands on defense, often using steals or long rebounds to get out in transition, forcing Texas to be cognizant of shot selection and floor balance to avoid run outs by TCU.
In the ESPN matchup predictor, Texas has a 53.4-percent chance of winning in Fort Worth.
How to watch
Time: 8 p.m. Central