One of the more difficult seasons for the Texas Longhorns basketball program effectively drew to a close Thursday evening.
After overcoming a double digit second half deficit in the Big 12 Tournament opener against Texas Tech, Shaka Smart’s Longhorns were unable to do the same in the quarterfinals, falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers 63-53.
The matchup tipped off with things swinging in West Virginia’s favor early, as the Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 15-5 lead. Behind dishing out a taste of West Virginia’s medicine, though, the Longhorns fought back and ultimately found themselves in a back-and-forth battle at tied at 29. But as we’ve seen far too often this season, an offensive drought plagued the ‘Horns and while Texas failed to convert a single field goal throughout the final 7:05 of the half, West Virginia reeled off an 11-1 run for a 39-30 halftime edge.
The second half didn’t get off to the most ideal start for Texas, either. A nine-point intermission deficit swelled to 13 (47-34) within minutes and once again, the Longhorns were faced with the tall task of overcoming a double digit deficit — this time against a much better opponent.
The comeback never came.
Texas did claw to within four with 8:28 remaining, trimming West Virginia’s lead to 50-46, but the Longhorns, similar to the first half drought, slogged through crunch time and scored just five points throughout the remainder of the game.
Obviously, that effort was far from enough for Texas to keep its season alive and advance to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
In what may have been his final game as a Longhorn, Jarrett Allen fell just short of yet another double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Jones and Kendal Yancy were the only Longhorns to reach double figures on the score board with 13 and 11, respectively. James Banks also added one of his more notable performances as a freshman with four points, four rebounds and three blocks.
As a unit, the ‘Horns shot just 5-17 from the perimeter and as it has all season long, Texas didn’t do itself any favors from the free throw line, converting just 8-19 in what became a 10-point loss.
Offensively, West Virginia rode Jevon Carter to the tune of 21 points behind five connections from deep. Elijah Macon also added eight points and 10 boards.
Going forward, there’ll be plenty of time for reflection and breaking down what went wrong this season, as we’ll be doing here at BON. But as expected, the story to follow now, which will significantly impact Texas’ upside next season, is whether Allen elects to turn pro or not. Either way, by the time you see these Longhorns on the hardwood again, Matt Coleman will be in burnt orange, Jones will likely be primed for a breakout sophomore campaign and Texas will no longer be the most inexperienced team in the Big 12, so it’s only up from here.
Texas finished the season at 11-22 (4-14).