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Three Thoughts on Texas’ Loss to Abilene Christian

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas

Here are three thoughts following the Texas Longhorns’ loss to the Abilene Christian Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

TURNOVERS

Just one word. Turnovers. That’s what decided this game for Texas which it lost, 53-52. It was the Longhorns’ worst game in terms of ball possession this season. Texas had 22 turnovers, a season high. The previous season high was 21 turnovers, which came in the double overtime loss to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys? One could understand that. But Abilene Christian? No. Texas became flustered with ACU’s impressive pressure defense, especially on the perimeter (ACU leads the nation in turnovers forced per game with 20). Texas’ guards made poor decisions with the basketball. ACU forced them to speed the game up, which the Longhorns didn’t want. And why were the turnovers so important? ACU shot awful, 29.9 percent for the game. On just about any other night, shooting less than 30 percent for the game means a loss. But when you can goad your opponent into 22 turnovers — while that opponent is shooting 45 percent for the game — well, you get why we love March Madness.

 

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THE DROUGHT CONTINUES

Texas hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2014, when it beat Arizona State in its first game of that tournament. That was back when Rick Barnes was head coach. Barnes is now in Tennessee, where his Vols had an early exit from this tournament, too. Now, head coach Shaka Smart just led the Longhorns to their fourth NCAA Tournament loss in his tenure. He’s never won an NCAA Tournament game at Texas. This was SUPPOSED to be that year. The Longhorns were, at one time, No. 4 in the country. They won the Big 12 Tournament. They had a huge dose of momentum coming into this tournament. Now? Smart may have used up all of that goodwill he built up this season on another NCAA Tournament disappointment. Oh, by the way, the Longhorns were seeded higher (No. 3) than at any time in Smart’s tenure. I’m not saying heads are going to roll. But, given how tepid Texas was all night, and how Smart couldn’t right the ship, it’s right to assume the boosters in Austin aren’t happy right now.  

 

STARTING KAI THE RIGHT CALL

At least Smart did one thing right — he kept Kai Jones in the starting lineup, a tweak he made in the Big 12 Championship game. Jones finished with 11 points and three rebounds. He didn’t really impact the game that much, but at least he hit double figures. So did forward Jericho Sims, who had a double-double — 10 points and 11 rebounds. It might have been their last game at Texas. Jones is believed to be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft. Sims is a senior, though he could choose to come back and use this extra year of eligibility afforded to all players by the NCAA.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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