The bright lights of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center may have been a bit blinding for the Longhorns Monday night. Texas lost 58-77 to Northwestern in the semifinals of the Legends Classic after shooting a season low 37.3 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from the charity stripe.
“You know, I was a little concerned in shoot-around today,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “Because sometimes you know, when guys get put under the bright lights, they can get pulled out of what goes into [a game].”
Texas opened up the game by committing turnovers on five of their first six possessions and quickly fell into an 11-0 hole. The Longhorns would claw their way back into the contest and at one point captured a 26-25 lead. But poor shooting and more turnovers plagued the team the rest of the first half, and Texas would enter halftime trailing the Wildcats 26-34. The Longhorns shot 33 percent and coughed up the ball 10 times during the half.
Texas’ start to open the second half closely mirrored its poor start to open the game. The Longhorns missed their first six shots of the half, and Northwestern took advantage with a 10-1 run that would effectively end the game. The team’s lead would blossom to as high as 20 points.
Sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr., who finished the game with eight points on three-of-nine shooting, said he was happy with the shots the team had — he said his team just didn’t convert.
“Some shots just didn’t fall, you know, I think we got some good looks,” Davis said. “Now we just got to got watch the film and see how we can improve for the next game.”
Compared to Texas, the Wildcats were scorching from the floor. The team shot 48.3 percent from the field and drained 10 of their 23 shots from behind the arc.
For the first time this season, the Longhorns’ inexperience cost them. Freshman forward Jarrett Allen turned the ball over a season-high five times and never found the touch from the field.
Freshman guards Andrew Jones and Jacob Young combined for only 12 points on four of ten shooting, and freshman center James Banks earned a technical and an ejection for hitting a Northwestern player while scrambling on the floor for a loose ball.
Smart thought the struggles would be beneficial for the freshman going forward.
“For all of our freshman, this is their first experience away from home and their first experience dealing with a high-major opponent, “Smart said. “I think there’s a lot of learning experiences for all of them.”
Sophomore guard Tevin Mack was a bright spot for Texas. The guard finished with a team-high 18 points, finishing as the lone Longhorn in double digits.
Texas will now take on Colorado, who lost 83-89 Monday to Notre Dame, in the consolation round of the Legends Classic Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.