3 takeaways from Texas's gut-wrenching Loss to Tennessee

The Longhorns fought valiantly, but came up just short in their 62-58 Round of 32 loss to the No. 2-seeded Tennessee Volunteers.
Chendall Weaver, Kadin Shedrick, Texas basketball
Chendall Weaver, Kadin Shedrick, Texas basketball / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas basketball ended its season in gut-wrenching fashion on Saturday night, losing 62-58 to the No. 2 seed Tennesee Volunteers. The Longhorns finished with their second-worst offensive output of the season and an abysmal 17 turnovers.

Texas basketball falls four points short of Tennessee in March Madness

Texas could never get into an offensive rhythm, shooting just 36.4 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from deep. It was a classic staunch defensive effort from the Rick Barnes-led Volunteers.

It was a back-and-forth game through the first 14 minutes, with a Max Abmas three cutting the Volunteer lead to 18-17 with 6:39 to go in the first half. However, Texas made just one of its next ten shots as Tennessee closed the half on a 10-2 run.

It was more of the same in the first ten minutes of the second half. Tennessee was forcing turnovers and securing offensive rebounds, allowing them to finish with ten more shot attempts than Texas. Their lead never grew to more than 12, but Texas could never seem to get enough momentum to get close—until Chendall Weaver took over.

Weaver scored 11 of the Horns' 14 points in a seven-plus minute stretch in the second half. He kept the Longhorns in the game when no one else could make a shot.

The rest of the Longhorns seemed to feed off Weaver's energy as Texas cut the Tennessee lead to two with just 1:53 remaining. After a defensive stop, both Dylan Disu and Tyrese Hunter had game-tying layups lip out.

After Tennessee's Jonas Aidoo went 1-of-2 from the line, a Max Abmas layup cut the Volunteer lead to just one with 35 seconds remaining. Credit to Tennesee, as the Volunteers nailed six consecutive free throws to put the game on ice and reach the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row.

As Rodney Terry's first full season comes to a close, I took a look at three takeaways from the Tennesee game that Coach Terry and his staff should take into the offseason.

Texas must target big guards in the portal

The Texas backcourt was overwhelmed by the Volunteers all game long. Max Abmas and Tyrese Hunter finished with a combined four assists and ten turnovers. They picked up their scoring in the latter half of the second half (13 from Hunter, ten from Abmas), but it was too little too late for the Horns.

In a game where the Longhorns needed their backcourt to avoid wasted possessions, Tyrese Hunter finished with six turnovers, three of which came on inbound plays. Credit to the Tennessee defense, but many Texas turnovers resulted from lazy passes.

The Tennessee guards, namely Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi, pressured the ball 94 feet all night long and consistently pushed the Longhorn offense out to 30 feet.

The 2024 transfer portal is already open, and Coach Terry and his staff must target big guards as they transition to the SEC.

Abmas is gone, and I am sure Hunter will test the NBA Draft waters. The Texas backcourt is likely to return Weaver and Chris Johnson, with Tre Johnson (#2 SG) and Cam Scott (#8 SG) coming in from the high school ranks.

Coach Terry must target multiple veteran guards to bring into the fold. Abmas is among the best scorers in NCAA history, but his lack of size often exposed him on the defensive end. I would love to see this staff add some size at the point guard spot to pair with the talented underclassmen.