Longhorns return from NYC with heads high

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Pittsburgh’s Travon Woodall’s missed free throw with 12 seconds remaining was exactly what the Longhorns needed.

But the off-balance and unwise heave of the ball by Cory Joseph missed the entire goal and sent the Longhorns back to Austin with a 68-66 loss — the first of the young season.

“I knew there was a couple of seconds left and I was trying to get the ball and make a play for the team, and it didn’t happen,” Joseph said. “I had the ball in my hands but it didn’t happen. I was aware of the time. It was just a learning experience and I have to get better.”

The Longhorns’ near upset of No. 4 Pittsburgh on Friday and win over No. 16 Illinois showed that this squad can compete among the best in the country.

“We got a young group of guys who were able to take in two good games here and learned some things,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “We will definitely improve from this.”

Improvement is something that is needed on both sides of the ball.

“We obviously still have a lot of work to do defensively, as I think most teams do this time of year,” head coach Rick Barnes said.

Those defensive struggles came on guarding the perimeter as the Longhorns allowed their opponents to convert on 17 3-point attempts in addition to a number of open misses.

Offensively, the Longhorns continue to stray away from their team mentality at times.

“We had some chances to get some momentum going and went one on one as opposed to getting it inside and getting what we needed,” Barnes said.

Despite scoring a game-high and career-high 28 points, including seven of Texas’ last nine points against the Panthers, Jordan Hamilton was most notable in taking wild shots.

The Longhorns trailed by 10 points with eight minutes remaining, but slowly caught up to a Pittsburgh team that was projected to win the Big East.

Forward Tristan Thompson once again had a strong outing finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Thompson’s performance at Madison Square Garden should concern opposing coaches who will have to go against the freshmen and this Texas team.

“We are not even close to being as good as we can play,” Barnes said.