Texas desperately needed a win today against Kansas State to ensure their NCAA Tournament aspirations didn’t come to a close before the Big 12 Tournament could get underway. I knew it, you knew it and Joe Lunardi knew it.
Things didn’t start out in the Longhorns favor in their regular season finale. Texas fell behind early after multiple missed 3-point heaves (0-6 to be exact) and that left the Horns with only four points with 13:42 remaining in the first half. A back and forth game led to Texas trailing 22-20 past the midway point in the first half, but then Texas started playing like the team that was once ranked and sparked a 14-4 run that led to Texas owning a 34-26 halftime lead, which was sparked by back-to-back threes from Connor Lammert.
The second half produced much of the same. Texas trudged through the first 7:09 of the second half, scoring only three points as their lead quickly disappeared. Again, some back and forth basketball ensued and Kansas State was alive and well in Austin with a chance to end their regular season above .500 at 16-15. And then the Longhorns woke up. The Texas guards started to get things going, Jonathan Holmes hit back-to-back threes and Cameron Ridley nearly murdered K-State’s Thomas Gipson after a tremendous shot rejection by Holmes.
The culmination of all of this was Texas actually leading by double digits in the final minutes of the game and holding onto that lead for a 62-49 victory over the Wildcats on senior night.
Intertwined in all of this excitement was some good as some bad for the Longhorns.
The bad is…Texas scoring only four points in the first 6:18 of the first half and three points in the first 7:09 of the second half is not good. Combined, that’s a very crucial 13:27 of game play that Texas really struggled to put the ball in the rim. Slow starts like this to begin the game and second half wont get Texas very far in the Big 12 Tournament, much less the NCAAs.
The good…well, Texas won, so there’s that. But overall, outside of their horrible offensive starts to each half, the Longhorns played like the team that began the season ranked No. 10. As expected, a block party was thrown in Austin, which led to the Longhorns tying a team record for blocks with 14. Holmes’ 10 points became the first time the senior has cracked double digits since their January 31 matchup with Baylor, while Demarcus Holland continued his recent offensive efforts with 12 points on 5-10 shooting. Lammert and Isaiah Taylor also scored in double figures with 11 and 10 respectively.
With back-to-back victories and some confidence now under their belt, the Longhorns will head to the Big 12 Tournament as a 7-seed, which gives them a first round matchup with Texas Tech, whom they’ve already beaten twice this season. The two teams will play in the late game on Wednesday night.
Another win down, another step closer to the NCAA Tournament.
K-State coach Bruce Weber: "Texas should be in the NCAAs. It would be a crime if they're not."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) March 7, 2015