Texas basketball throttled by No. 3 Houston in blowout loss

A blowout double-digit loss on the road on Feb. 17 against the No. 3 Houston Cougars is a sizable setback for Texas basketball heading into the stretch run during the regular season.
Max Abmas, Texas basketball
Max Abmas, Texas basketball / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Rodney Terry and Texas basketball were outclassed by the No. 3 Houston Cougars and head coach Kelvin Sampson on the road in this Big 12 matchup on Feb. 17. Houston was better than Texas in pretty much every phase of this game.

Houston outshot and outrebounded the Longhorns by significant margins. It didn't help that Texas had more turnovers, fewer blocks, fewer steals, and fewer assists than the Cougars.

Max Abmas and Texas basketball handily defeated on the road by No. 3 Houston

This looked like a much different Texas team that showed up for this game compared to how things went when these two squads faced off at the Moody Center a few weeks ago. Texas drove Houston to the brink in an overtime loss at the Moody Center on Jan. 29.

A strong start to this game for the Longhorns, especially by junior guard Tyrese Hunter, was quickly diminished when Houston went on a 14-3 run late in the first half to take command of this game. Houston's strong late-first half run was all they needed to run away with the win in the second half.

Texas actually never held the lead in this game, despite keeping things close in the first 10 minutes of the contest.

The Cougars scored at least 40 points in each half, leading to the 82-61 loss for the Longhorns at the Fertitta Center this afternoon.

Houston's defensive efforts stymied senior guard Max Abmas and the Longhorns throughout. Sampson and the Cougars specifically focused on stopping Abmas, which clearly had a big impact on this game for Texas.

Abmas couldn't get much of anything going with Houston's backcourt defense so focused on shutting him down. He scored just three points on a poor 1-of-9 shooting from the field in the first half. And things didn't pick up for him much in the second half, as he still shot around 20 percent from the field.

Abmas finished up this game shooting just 2-of-14 from the field, 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe. He also had five rebounds, four assists, and three turnovers in this game.

Senior big man Dylan Disu and sophomore guard Chendall Weaver were the only positive factors for the Longhorns consistently on the offensive end of the floor against Houston. But this was a poor shooting effort from most players on the team, especially from the charity stripe and from beyond the arc.

Houston's guards set the tone for this game. Seniors Jamal Shead and LJ Cryer combined for over half of the Cougars' points in this game while shooting well over 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from deep. Meanwhile, they held Texas's backcourt duo of Hunter and Abmas to well under 20 points on around 25 percent shooting from the field.

This loss to Houston doesn't spell doom for the Longhorns' season. As long as Texas picks itself up and wins at least four more games down the stretch this season, it has a very good chance of ensuring a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the path forward is very easy for the Longhorns. Texas faces two top 15 teams on the road and two other Quad 1 opponents in Big 12 play to round out the regular season, including a marquee road matchup on Feb. 24 against the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks.

Texas drops to 16-9 (5-7 Big 12) after the double-digit loss to the Cougars. Houston remains in a first-place tie in the Big 12 standings with Iowa State after the win, moving to 22-3 (9-3 Big 12) this season.

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