One of Rodney Terry’s favorite maxims is that Max Abmas is going to get his points.
Never was Terry more correct than on Saturday when the senior guard scored the final 13 points for the Texas Longhorns to send the No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs to their second home loss of the season, 77-66.
After a turnover by sophomore guard Chendall Weaver with 3:39 remaining and the game tied at 64-64, Abmas stole the ball from TCU star Emanuel Miller in transition and then got to the rim for a three-point play that started an 11-0 run by Abmas, who hit a difficult three over Peavy to beat the shot clock before bombing another deep triple as Texas took control of the game.
Just as important was the work that the Longhorns did on the defensive end after the steal by Abmas, holding the Horned Frogs to 1-of-7 shooting down the stretch and closing possessions with defensive rebounds.
Abmas finished with a game-high 21 points while hitting all seven of his free-throw attempts despite 6-of-14 shooting on the day as TCU used larger defenders against Abmas and denied him the ball at every opportunity in hounding him to 2-of-10 shooting before the spectacular finish. Senior forward Dylan Disu added 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals in a strong all-around performance with sophomore Dillon Mitchell providing 13 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals in an active showing of his own.
Against one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, the Longhorns limited the Horned Frogs to seven offensive rebounds and five second-chance points in a dominant performance on the glass — Texas out-rebounded TCU 34-21 and had a 17-5 advantage in second-chance points thanks to 14 offensive rebounds, a full 50 percent of the misses by the Longhorns.
The Horned Frogs are elite in transition, too, leading the nation in fast-break points scored per game, but finished four under their average and only had three more points in transition than the Longhorns.
With Weaver in the starting lineup for the first time, replacing senior guard IT Horton, Texas struggled to get shots off early with three turnovers in the first three minutes, falling behind 12-4 at the first media timeout as TCU started 5-of-6 shooting, including three layups and two three-pointers. Disu missed his first three field-goal attempts.
The Longhorns struggled to get back into the game thanks to a hot start of Horned Frogs guard Avery Anderson, who scored nine points in the first five and a half minutes, surpassing his season scoring average of 8.9 points per game.
After the under-12 timeout, however, Disu got going thanks to a trip to the free-throw line, following it up with three and a layup that tied the game at 25-25 and forced a timeout by TCU head coach Jamie Dixon with 8:00 remaining in the first half. Offensive rebounds helped buoy the Horns, too — six turned into six second-chance points through the first two minutes. Senior guard Brock Cunningham also provided a boost off the bench, hitting two three-pointers, his first game hitting multiple shots from beyond the arc since Texas beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 22. And Weaver had a highlight play, throwing down a lob from junior guard Tyrese Hunter.
Texas used a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game, keyed by Disu finding Abmas on a back-door cut for a layup and hitting another three. The activity of Weaver defensively helped the Longhorns maintain the lead as Disu went to the bench in foul trouble, heading into the under-four timeout up 35-30 thanks to a steal and fast-break dunk by the Mansfield Timberview product in the midst of a 7-of-9 shooting stretch for Texas.
The turnovers problems resurfaced, however, with four straight giveaways after Weaver’s dunk, two apiece by Mitchell and senior forward Kadin Shedrick that forced Texas head coach Rodney Terry to call timeout with 2:31 remaining.
Both players bounced back — Mitchell had a dunk on a nice baseline out-of-bounds play and a windmill slam after a steal and Shedrick hit a banked floater and a layup just before the half expired to send the Longhorns into the break with a 43-32 lead.
Mitchell matched the 10 points by Disu for the team high in the first half, adding seven rebounds and two steals, but also turning the ball over four times. The seven offensive rebounds by Texas produced a 17-9 rebounding advantage and eight more shots for the Longhorns. After starting the game 2-of-9 shooting, Texas hit 16 of its next 23 for a field-goal percentage of 56.3 percent in the first half.
The Horned Frogs started the second half as hot as they started the first half, cutting the lead to five points thanks to an 8-2 run keyed by two three-pointers. Terry called timeout in an attempt to stop the run after the only basket by Texas in the first two and a half minutes out of halftime came on an offensive rebound by Weaver to beat the shot clock and save a poor possession. Free throws by Abmas marked the only points for the Longhorns in three and a half minutes heading into the first media timeout of the second half as Texas started 1-of-5 shooting.
Layups by Hunter and Disu helped negate some of the momentum for TCU, which hit 5-of-7 shots but still trailed by four points at the under-12 timeout, a margin quickly overcome thanks to a 7-0 run behind two jumpers from Jakobe Coles and a three-point play by Jameer Nelson Jr. on a fast break created by a steal. At the under-eight timeout, the game was tied at 57-57 after Disu threw down a dunk through contact for his own three-point play and the Horned Frogs responded with a layup by Emanuel Miller.
A 7-0 run by Texas that included a three-point play by Mitchell, a fast-break layup by Abmas after a steal by Mitchell, and put-back dunk by Shedrick gave the Longhorns a seven-point lead, but Miller hit a three and fouls on Texas started to mount with Trey Tennyson hitting two free throws and Miller hitting two more after the final media timeout to tie the game at 64-64.
Texas returns to the Moody Center on Tuesday for a matchup against No. 12 Iowa State.