Texas Basketball: Huge second half Tech rally dooms Longhorns

A bit of a letdown down the stretch at home against Texas Tech on Jan. 13 saw Texas basketball lose their second game of the season.

The run of undefeated play through the start of the Big 12 slate for No. 4 ranked Texas basketball and head coach Shaka Smart finally came to an end on the night of Jan. 13. Texas was on quite the run this season, earning their first top five ranking under Smart’s direction in more than five years at the helm.

Smart and the Longhorns came into this meeting against the No. 18 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders with a record of 10-1 (4-0 Big 12). Their lone loss had come at the hands of another top three ranked team in the Villanova Wildcats and head coach Jay Wright last month.

Moreover, a sneaky difficult test arrived for Texas on Jan. 13. Facing a team like Texas Tech is never going to be easy, especially when home court advantage isn’t really a thing this season in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, Texas came into this game as a slim one-point favorite just ahead of tip off. And while that betting line looked like it could be blown out of the water early in this game, head coach Chris Beard and the Red Raiders just wouldn’t go away down the stretch.

The former Georgetown Hoyas transfer standout guard Mac McClung kept Texas Tech in this game in the second half. Texas even had a four point lead with less than two minutes to go in the second half, but blew that too.

The loss for the Longhorns to the Red Raiders to end this undefeated start to Big 12 play came by the narrow final score of 79-77. McClung was the player that powered Texas Tech in this win, with a game-high 22 points, to go along with five rebounds, two assists, one steal, no blocks, and just one turnover. McClung shot 6-of-14 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.

Hitting their looks from the free-throw line was a big reason why the Red Raiders prevailed over the Longhorns. They shot 78.6 percent on their 28 attempts from the free-throw line, while Texas was just over 58 percent on their 31 attempts.

Texas’ big men were fouled often in this game. That led to the poor shooting performance from the line. Senior center Jericho Sims was just 6-of-14 from the free-throw line. Although, he did also tally up a season-high 16 points, to go along with five rebounds, one assist, no steals, and two blocks.

Freshman power forward Greg Brown was big for the Longhorns in this game too, especially on the defensive end. He registered nine points, nine rebounds, and a whopping four blocks. Brown only played in 22 minutes in this game, though, leading to just five attempts from the field.

And in a rare off night from senior guard Matt Coleman, Texas saw the scorching hot redshirt junior shooting guard/wing Andrew Jones step it up once again. Jones registered a team-high 20 points, to go along with three rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He shot an efficient 7-of-11 from the field, 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.

Efficient nights from the trio of Sims, Brown, and Jones, couldn’t solve an off night for the starting backcourt pairing of Coleman and junior Courtney Ramey. The Longhorns didn’t get much in terms of contributions off the bench either, with sophomores Kai Jones and Brock Cunningham mostly falling flat in 32 minutes on the floor combined.

Texas now boasts a record of 10-2 (4-1 Big 12), heading into another stretch of road games. Next up on the regular season slate for the Longhorns is a meeting with the Kansas State Wildcats at home at the Frank Erwin Center on Jan. 16.