Second half struggles, missed opportunities cost Texas against TCU, 64-61

Jarrett Allen taking on Frogs (Will Gallagher/IT)

Jarrett Allen taking on Frogs (Will Gallagher/IT)

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AUSTIN — It looked as if Texas was about to step on TCU’s throat with just under nine minutes left in the second half. Freshman Jacob Young laid the ball up and in to make it 53-46 with Texas in control of the game, the crowd loud and on its feet and Shaka Smart’s young Texas team with the opportunity to take control of the game for good.

But Smart called a time out and TCU crept back in. Then they took the lead. Then they held on after sophomore Kerwin Roach’s half court heave fell short, allowing TCU head coach Jamie Dixon and the Horned Frogs to leave with their first win in Austin since 1987.

“That was actually something we talked about quite a bit coming into this game,” Smart said about closing games. “When you get a team down, really trying to be aggressive and keeping that team down and pushing the lead forward.”

Following the under eight timeout, Texas turned the ball over four times allowing TCU to go on a five minute, 10-0 run which included several shots that rimmed out for the Horns. The Horned Frog run finally ended with 3:15 left when freshman Jarrett Allen made a layup and was fouled, but failed to complete the and-1.

Coming out of the under four timeout, Texas forced a 10-second violation and followed it with a Allen dunk, energizing the 9,661 in attendance at the Erwin Center. Texas forced a turnover, and freshman Andrew Jones drove the ball and laid it up and in. However, the officials ruled the shot was on the floor, and Texas got two when it had an argument it should have gotten three.

Texas took a one point lead with just over a minute left when Roach drove and hit a layup to make it 61-60. TCU drove and took a one point lead with a layup, and Roach brought the ball down the floor. With only a few seconds left on the shot clock, Roach drove the lane and just missed a circus layup that would have given Texas the lead.

“It was improvised,” Roach said on the layup attempt. “The first play we ran didn’t go through. There was like eight seconds left on the shot clock. Jarrett came and set a screen for me. I spun it, it was just a good move and it wouldn’t finish.”

TCU made both free throws following a foul on the rebound, and Texas had a chance to tie it with eight seconds left on a wide open shot from sophomore Eric Davis in the corner, but it bounced off the rim. TCU gave Texas another chance after missing the ensuing free throws, but Roach could not connect.

“We were just trying to get the rebound,” Roach said about the final sequence. “We knew we had five seconds left. It had touched TCU hands, so I knew some time had ran off once [sophomore] Tevin [Mack] got it. Once I got it, I looked up and there was one second left and a dude was in front of me. I tried to get one off.”

After the play, several players seemed frustrated as to how the last sequence occurred. Although it looked like an argument, Smart was not disturbed by the emotion.

“Guys want to win,” Smart said. “They’re disappointed about the last play. There was some frustration throughout the game at different times. I tell these guys all the time basketball’s not a perfect game. There’s going to be mistakes. There’s going to be missed shots. You can win without being perfect. We have to be more about lifting each other up. We’ve got to be more about trying to, on the next play, recommit to whatever it is that we plan to do, whether it’s on offense or defense.”

After shooting 6-for-11 from deep in the first half, the Horned Frogs did not make a shot from outside in the entire second half. Unfortunately for Smart, Texas almost matched that stat with Eric Davis making the lone second half deep ball of the game.

Allen led Texas in scoring with 18 points while adding nine rebounds. Mack was one point and one rebound short of a double-double. Jones and senior Shaquille Cleare both added eight points.

With such a poor shooting night from deep (4-for-14) and with several of those shots at pivotal junctures, Smart knows it can be tough on his team. According to Smart, the missed shots were not the root of the problem.

“It’s very disappointing,” Smart said about open shots not falling. “Those guys did not try to miss those shots, but those are shots we work on a lot. They didn’t go tonight. At the same time, if we do certain other things better, the game doesn’t go down to those shots. I don’t want those guys to feel like it was just those shots. It’s a team game. It’s a 40 minute game. When we watch the tape, there will be plays from the very first minute of the game in addition to those final seconds where we’ll say ‘we need to do that better.’”

But with the nail ready to be hit by the hammer to close the game, Texas simply failed to connect. That fact resonated with Roach.

“We just have to develop more of a killer instinct,” Roach said. Our theme going into the game was ‘step on their throat.’ We were doing it. We went by like nine, eight, seven. We just have to continue to pound it on their throat and take their will.”

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