Strong performance on glass helps team defeat rival Bears

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Depending on whom you ask, Saturday’s win in Waco was either a return to form or a departure from the team’s recent winning ways.

Texas got out of its losing funk with a victory against the Bears, but it hit just 13 of 38 shots from the field, a new low for Big 12 competition.

Sophomore Jordan Hamilton, the team’s leading scorer, managed 14 points, but only two came in the first half, when the team was outscored 24-21 by the Bears.

One thing remained constant: iffy free-throw shooting. Texas went 16 of 27 from the line during the weekend, lowering its season average to .643.

A bright note of consistency came on the glass. Texas outrebounded the Bears 44-29. The team is now 13-1 when owning an advantage on the boards in Big 12 competition and 0-2 when being outrebounded.

For the first time in the past four games, since the losing streak began, Texas came back from a deficit to claim a close win — a good sign as the team prepares for this week’s conference tournament and its last chance to secure a higher NCAA seed.

“I thought our guys had poise throughout, even when we struggled,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes on Saturday. “When Baylor had the momentum going their way, I thought our guys stayed with it. They did what they needed to do and got on the glass and paid attention to the details.”

As the No. 2 team in the Big 12, Texas receives a bye Wednesday and will face either Oklahoma or Baylor on Thursday. Texas won all four of its games against those two teams this year by an average score of 12.75.

A win there would likely pit the Longhorns against Texas A&M or Missouri, two more teams that Texas won all of its games against this season. In fact, the only three Big 12 teams to have beaten the Longhorns — Kansas State, Colorado and Nebraska — are on the other side of the bracket and could not face them until the finals Saturday.

It looks like a favorable road for Texas to the Big 12 championship game, which could spell an easier road in the NCAA tournament where the Longhorns have dropped recently in bracket projections.