Texas Basketball: 3 takeaways from UT’s blowout loss to Marquette

Stevie Mitchell, Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Stevie Mitchell, Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball. Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel /

In the worst outing of the regular season to date for head coach Rodney Terry and No. 12 Texas basketball, former UT head coach Shaka Smart and the No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles decimated this squad in Milwaukee on Dec. 6. Marquette bested Texas by a commanding score of 86-65, despite being a single-digit favorite before tip-off.

It didn’t help in the long run that Texas got off to a strong start to this game. Texas jumped out to a multi-possession lead early in the first half thanks to three consecutive threes made by senior guard Max Abmas. But Texas couldn’t capitalize on the strong shooting start from Abmas, as Marquette went on a 39-19 run to close out the first half.

No. 12 Texas basketball gets handily defeated by No. 8 Marquette on the road

This was another tough effort for most of the first half for the Longhorns. Texas hasn’t played well in a complete first-half effort in four of the last five games.

The Texas State Bobcats had Texas on upset alert early in the second half in the Longhorns’ last home game at the Moody Center on Nov. 30. But Texas pulled away late to put Texas State away with a 77-58 win at home.

Texas wasn’t able to muster a good response to Marquette’s strong first-half performance in this game. Terry’s squad lost the second half by a score of 44-37.

Getting outrebounded and outshot was the story of this game for the Longhorns. Marquette outrebounded Texas 37-30. But even rebounding was the biggest reason why the Longhorns lost this game.

Texas shooting just 1-of-15 from deep and under 40 percent from the field after Abmas’s three consecutive three-point field goals in the first half is why Marquette was able to run away with the 21-point win in the end. The last 38 minutes of this game was definitely Texas’s worst sustained shooting stretch of the season.

Most other phases of this game in the box score and on the court were fairly even between Texas and Marquette. That could be at least one encouraging sign for the Longhorns before Texas (6-2, 0-0 Big 12) returns to the Moody Center on Dec. 9 to face Houston Christian.

Here are three takeaways from the Longhorns’ 21-point blowout loss to Marquette on the road at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI, on Dec. 6.

Tyrese Hunter and Ithiel Horton go ice cold on offense

While few Longhorns players shot the ball particularly well against Marquette, the two worst performances from the field came courtesy of senior wing Ithiel Horton and junior guard Tyrese Hunter. Horton and Hunter combined to shoot just 1-of-13 from the field and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc in the loss to the Golden Eagles.

Horton was a source of plenty of empty possessions for the Longhorns, missed six of seven field goal attempts in just 14 minutes on the floor. Texas needs more efficient minutes out of an experienced and capable off-ball scorer like Horton coming off the bench.

Hunter was even worse on the offensive end on this night. He missed all six attempts he took from the field and two from deep. Regardless of whether he was pulling up from deep, the mid-range, or driving to the basket, Hunter wasn’t able to get the ball in the bucket. He had at least one field goal attempt from each level of the floor in the settled offensive halfcourt, but that didn’t help when all was said and done for this game.

Texas’s issues playing off-ball defense

This was one of the worst games of the season defensively for the Longhorns. Outside of forcing 15 turnovers from Marquette, Texas struggled with their close outs and contesting shots from deep. It also didn’t help that Marquette was hitting their looks from deep, even when Texas was able to contest on their close outs.

There were times in this game when Texas struggled with communication off-ball on the defensive end. Help would occasionally come late, and it didn’t seem like Texas was fully with it on the defensive end from about the 5-to-15-minute mark in the first half.

You could see Terry worked up during a timeout while talking with his team after a player completely lost his assignment on a corner three-pointer on an out-of-bounds play.

That was the story for much of the night, as Texas allowed Marquette’s top two scoring guards (Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek) to shoot 9-of-17 from deep.

Quad 1 foes presenting a big issue for Texas

Texas has now lost its two games against Quad one opponents (No. 5 UConn and No. 8 Marquette) by a combined margin of 31 points. Terry and the Longhorns fell short of UConn in the final of the Saatva Empire Classic on Nov. 20 by a score of 81-71.

The Longhorns at least looked much better against UConn at Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks ago than they did tonight on the road against Marquette.

Terry got outcoached by Smart, which is a tough thing to happen for the first-year full-time Texas head coach against his predecessor before Chris Beard.

Before I go too far with this take, I get that it’s not easy to go on the road (since UConn was essentially a de facto road game at MSG in New York City) and defeat top-10 opponents who were both favored significantly in the pre-game betting odds.

But this Texas team is too talented and had too high of expectations to be getting beaten by double-digits every time it faces Quad 1 foes (per NCAA net ratings). Texas now has the worst net rating against Quad 1 foes of any team in the Big 12 this season.

It won’t get any easier for the Longhorns regarding the level of competition on the road when Big 12 play arrives next month. Texas has six road games in Big play against Quad 1 foes, most of which are ranked.

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