Texas needed just one good half of basketball to seal its trip to the NCAA tournament. A sparse resume that only had 17 wins to 10 losses, and three wins over quality teams had a chance to get a lot spicier on Monday against Baylor. The trend that has crippled the Longhorns all year to put them on the bubble. Texas couldn’t execute down the line, and failed to finish a game that it very well could have won.
Texas was out-rebounded by Baylor 32-24, and senior forward Quincy Acy’s 16 points were more than the yield of Texas’ entire starting lineup. Baylor also grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, with Acy providing eight, matching Texas’ output.
During Texas’ four-game winning streak, it nearly doubled its opponents free throw totals shooting 127 free throws compared to its oppenents’ 63. Over the last two games, the Longhorns have shot nearly a third as many free throws as they have given up. They only shot 38 while conceding 85, with Oklahoma State alone shooting 56. The Bears shot 29 free throws, converting 24 to give them a 10 point edge from the charity stripe.
Texas’ defense was stingy in the first half, holding Baylor to 26 points, while shooting just 28 percent from the field. The Bears also shot just 33 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. Texas’ defense couldn’t hold up in the second half though. Baylor shot 50 percent from the field, and made 66 percent of its 3 point attempts. While Baylor was heating up, Texas started cooling off. The Longhorns made half their shots in the first half, including making four of their eight 3-pointers. Texas still shot 46 percent in the second half, but it could not force turnovers in the second half, which allowed Baylor to attempt more shots than Texas in the period, as well as almost doubling the Longhorns’ output from the free-throw line.
Texas actually had the edge in points in the paint, points off turnovers and second chance points while the Longhorn bench dominated the Baylor bench. But the Bears got a big boost from the free-throw line, as well as timely 3-pointers and second chances late to pull out the game.
In 2008, Georgia scored four wins in five days, including a doubleheader to win the SEC tournament, and steal an NCAA bid. That Bulldog team had a 4-12 conference record and ended up entering the NCAA tournament at 17-16 overall. The conference tournament can be the last chance for teams to win their way into the big dance. Georgia’s road to the tourney that year featured zero games against ranked teams, and against no team with more than 22 wins. Texas’ road to the NCAA tournament will feature another shot at Baylor, then another shot at Missouri, then another shot at Kansas. Currently, Texas is 0-5 against those teams, with the season finale at Kansas still left to be played. It’s not guaranteed that Texas would have to play all those teams to win the conference, as upsets do happen, but those are the most likely teams that Texas would have to go through. Texas head coach Rick Barnes has never won the conference tournament, and would have to win three games in three days against top-15 teams in order to make the NCAA tournament.
Only five teams have won the Big 12 Conference tournament, with Kansas taking eight of the 15 titles, including five of the last six. Texas has made the finals of the conference championship six times, and has lost every time, four times to Kansas. Texas has been eliminated by Kansas in four of the last six Big 12 Conference Championships. The other two losses were to Baylor.
Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Horns' tournament hopes dwindle after latest loss