AUSTIN — There was a return to the mean for both Texas and Texas Tech in the second half of Saturday’s game. After a first half where the Longhorns kept up with the No. 8 Red Raiders, Texas Tech played up to the level of a top ten team in the second half while Shaka Smart’s Longhorns were haunted by their typical miscues in a 68-62 loss.
Poor closeouts, shooting and overall decision-making in the second twenty by Texas led to a slow trek toward a mediocre half for the Longhorns. Texas scored 30 in the first half while limiting the Red Raiders to 26 thanks to tough defense. In the second half, the Longhorns scored 32 while the Red Raiders scored 42.
The result was Texas’ ninth conference loss by 10 points or fewer since the beginning of the 2017 season. During the last two seasons, the Longhorns have only lost two games by 11 or more points. They just have failed to consistently be able to win the close game.
The decision making and poor defense was nothing new, and the overall result fits into a common theme of Texas’ conference losses over the past two seasons. Whether it was the inability to close out Red Raider corner shooters, allowing TTU to get open looks at the rim, or bad decisions in transition, all of it lead to TTU being able to establish a lead in the second half it never surrendered.
All those flaws were encapsulated in a late 8-0 run by the Red Raiders that put the game out of reach.
“They made some great plays during that run,” Smart said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of guarding them and keeping them out of the paint.”
Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney lead that second half charge for the Red Raiders. Jarrett Culver commands a lot of attention normally for Texas’ Tech’s team, but Mooney’s season-high 22 point performance on 8-of-10 shooting was a perfect complement for Tech’s star.
Where TTU succeeded in the second half, Texas failed. The Red Raiders closed out on Longhorn shooters following dribble-drives in the second half. When the Longhorns tried to get to the rim, they found a zone defense there to try to prevent that from happening.
“We just couldn’t respond to their run,” Kerwin Roach said postgame.
Roach tried to scratch the Horns to victory as he’s tried to do often over his four year career, but his 17 points were not enough. Jaxon Hayes posted 15 points and was 6-of-8 from the field, but was limited in scoring when Roach or another guard wasn’t able to create for him.
It wasn’t so much who scored, but who didn’t score. Senior Dylan Osetkowski recorded two points over 25 minutes. Courtney Ramey scored 2 points over 21 minutes. Jericho Sims and Royce Hamm together played a handful of minutes. On a night where Texas relied on seven, only two or three showed up.
After a 2-0 start in conference, Texas now sits at 2-2 and 10-6 overall.
Texas now travels to Lawrence to face Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse.