The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for Shaka Smart’s squad.
Two days after losing to Kansas, 79-67, in Lawrence on Jan. 21, the Longhorns returned to Austin and pulled off an incredible last-second victory over Oklahoma. The following Saturday, Texas let another game slip away in Athens, falling to Georgia 59-57.
Texas has been inconsistent all season long. Texas squeaked out another late victory over Texas Tech at home last Wednesday. And once again, the Longhorns followed it up with a disappointing 78-63 loss to TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday.
If the trend holds up, then the Longhorns (9–14, 3–7 Big 12) should feel pretty good about their chances heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with Iowa State.
“I don’t think, in college, basketball teams are necessarily always the exact same team from day to day,” Smart said. “I think the best ones find a way to be as consistent as they possibly be.”
Most of Texas’ pitfalls have come on the road this season. Texas dropped to 0–10 in games away from the Frank Erwin Center following the TCU loss.
It seems that every time the Longhorns appear to be moving in the right direction, they come to an abrupt halt and take a few steps back. Texas has been close. But lately, the Longhorns just haven’t been able to close the deal.
“In past games, the vibe kind of gets tight from different people,” sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. said. “But we are learning from past mistakes.”
Looking ahead with eight games left before the conference tournament, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. This is the Big 12, after all.
Texas still has to travel to Stillwater to face a red-hot Oklahoma State team and to Morgantown to face No. 13 West Virginia. Oh, and don’t forget about the home dates with the Jayhawks and No. 6 Baylor.
In short, things likely aren’t getting any better. Texas’ only remaining hope of making the NCAA tournament is to win the Big 12 tournament. And if you believe that is happening, then there is some ocean front property in Arizona up for sale.
The most likely ending to this disappointing season is one without any postseason at all. That is, unless Texas can somehow claw its way back to near .500, and then perhaps the College Basketball Invitational — no, not the NIT — becomes a possibility.
Even if Texas’ season ends at the Big 12 tournament, this lost year won’t completely be for nothing. The chemistry that wasn’t there at the beginning of this season likely won’t be lacking when Texas tips off the 2017–18 season in November.
“The more and more that we work together and be around each other in the gym, we’re growing a stronger bond,” freshman guard Andrew Jones said. “We’re starting to trust each other more on and off the court. We’re finally building a brotherhood and becoming a stronger family.”