Texas Basketball | Texas Longhorns: Recap Big 12 Tournament with West Virginia and Baylor

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Brad’s Longhorns Corner
Texas Basketball | Texas Longhorns: Recap Big 12 Tournament
By Brad Kellner – Columnist Silver and Blue Report & Hook ’em Report

Rick Barnes, Texas Longhorns, Longhorns, University of TexasThe Texas Longhorns entered last week’s Big 12 Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the conference. After receiving a first round bye, the Horns opened play on Thursday against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The University of Texas knocked off WVU twice in the regular season and headed into the third matchup as a 3.5-point favorite. The Horns were a tournament lock going into Thursday’s matchup, but the Mountaineers were still on the bubble searching for another win to build their resume. West Virginia had much more to play for, but Texas was able to assert its dominance from the opening tip.

The Longhorns got off to a superb start, scoring the first 12 points of the game taking a 12-0 lead into the under-16 timeout. West Virginia’s first points of the game came at the 15:05 mark, and the Mountaineers didn’t reach double digits until 4:26 was on the first half clock. The Horns opened the game on a 33-10 run and took a 35-14 lead into the locker room.

The halftime break didn’t slow down the Longhorns, as Texas opened the second half on a 19-10 spurt, pushing its lead to 30 points with just under ten minutes to play. West Virginia had a total of 22 points at the halfway point in the second half. 22 points. The Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going against the Longhorn defense until garbage time. The Horns went on to win 66-49, but the game really wasn’t that close.

The Horns looked remarkable on both sides of the ball, but the Texas defense was the difference-maker in Thursday’s contest. Texas held West Virginia to 30 percent shooting for the game and just 18 percent in the first half. The Mountaineers went just 6-20 from downtown and turned the ball over a dozen times as well in the loss. Texas utilized multiple zone and man defensive schemes to keep WVU in check. Juwan Staten, who finished the year as the leading scorer in the conference, was held to just four points on 1-11 shooting while the conference’s third leading scorer, Eron Harris, finished with just three.

Offensively, the Horns were very efficient. Texas didn’t need a whole lot of scoring because of its defense, but the Horns shot 49 percent from the contest while winning most of the hustle categories. Junior Jonathan Holmes led the way with 20 points on 7-8 shooting. The San Antonio native added seven boards and three assists as well. The only other Longhorn in double figures was Javan Felix, who totaled 16 points while adding six dimes. Every Longhorn who entered the game put up a number other than 0 in the point column.

The following night, the Horns squared off against the 7th seeded Baylor Bears. The Bears were coming off of an upset over No. 2 Oklahoma on Thursday, and knocked off TCU in the first round of play on Wednesday. Like West Virginia, the Longhorns had beaten Baylor in the first two meetings of the season. Unfortunately for the Horns, Friday’s game didn’t follow the same script as the West Virginia game.

Texas led at 2-0 and 4-2. Those are the only two leads the Longhorns held throughout the game. Texas trailed 21-18 with just over seven minutes left in the opening frame, but struggled to find scoring for the final stretch of the half. Baylor put up the next 11 points and closed the first twenty minutes on a 21-9 run to take a 15-point lead into the break. The Horns shot only 33 percent during the first half, and the same team that held West Virginia to 18 percent first half shooting allowed the Bears to put up 42 points on 47 percent shooting.

The second half didn’t start much better. The Horns continued their struggles on offense and Baylor was able to push its lead to 24 with 7:03 to play. Texas wasn’t able to figure out Baylor’s 2-3 zone and the Horns looked lost offensively. The Longhorns weren’t able to close to deficit within ten, and every time it seemed like the Horns were making a comeback, the Bears were able to respond with a couple of quick baskets. Baylor went held to win 86-69, knocking the Longhorns out of the Big 12 tournament.

Baylor guard Brady Heslip, who I think has been in college for nine years, hit six three-pointers and totaled 24 points while big man Cory Jefferson added 20 and 13 for the Bears. Kenny Chery and Isaiah Austin each put up 10 for BU. For the Longhorns, Isaiah Taylor led the way with 16 while Kendal Yancy and Martez Walked both scored in double figures. Two telling statistics of the Horns’ offensive struggles were the three-ball and free throws. Texas went just 5-15 from deep. Javan Felix, who has been the most consistent shooter for the Horns, totaled 2 points on just 1-4 shooting. To make matters worse, the Longhorns went just 2-8 at the charity stripe. The Horns didn’t get to the line nearly enough and couldn’t convert when they did.

The Longhorns looked like a completely different team on Friday. After stifling a productive Mountaineer offense on Thursday, Texas allowed Baylor to hit 12 threes and put up 86 points on Friday. Offensively, Texas just couldn’t figure out a way through Baylor’s zone and went long stretches without hitting a field goal. The Longhorns could’ve used another win to improve their tournament seeding up to a 6. A win over Baylor would have also given Texas a chance to win the tournament on Saturday against Iowa State.

The loss ended Texas’s regular season with a record of 23-10. The Longhorns finished with an 11-7 Big 12 record, as well. The loss to Baylor dropped Texas to a 7 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Longhorns will play its second-round tournament game Thursday night against the 10th seeded Arizona State Sun Devils.

Rick Barnes, Texas Longhorns, Longhorns, University of Texas

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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