Failure to execute the details preventing Texas from consistently winning games

Robert Larkin

Following Texas’ loss to TCU, Kerwin Roach II looked visibly frustrated. Roach admits he’s never happy after a defeat, but yet another missed opportunity in conference play certainly added to it.  

The Longhorns lost their fourth conference game by six points or fewer on Wednesday night. And after similar defeats to the likes of Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas, the senior added that it “definitely” feels that these types of games are overlapping and running together.

“I don’t think it’s pressure to win. We just gotta do what goes into winning,” Roach said. “When we’re on the road, there’s no error in the details.” 

For a team that needs conference victories to have hopes of clinching an NCAA tournament bid, Texas cannot afford to consistently fall short. But Roach and the Longhorns insist their inability to finish isn’t due to a lack of talent or mounting pressure from the outside, but rather inattention to the details in close ball games. 

“Just details, that’s all we need,” forward Jaxson Hayes added. “Just capitalize on some of the smaller details.” 

The lack of execution in several crucial areas was apparent in the loss to the Horned Frogs. A failure to box out in key rebounding situations allowed TCU to corral 14 offensive rebounds to Texas’ seven. The Longhorns also committed 17 turnovers in the loss, its second-highest mark of the season. 

At other points, mental lapses allowed momentum to swing in the Horned Frogs’ favor. In particular, a play at the end of the first half where players didn’t box out and allowed TCU’s Kouat Noi to collect an easy put-back dunk exemplified a lack of mental focus for head coach Shaka Smart’s team. 

“(Those possessions) add up when you lose by four or when it was a three-point game,” Smart said. “We had quite a few guys that didn’t have that sharpness, that freshness. When you go on the road, you gotta find a way to get yourself into that place as a player and as a team.” 

And the mental errors have plagued Texas in close losses all season. In conference play, a slow start and lack of focus resulted in a dreadful first half and eventual defeat on the road at Oklahoma State. Poor free throw shooting and a lull on defense in the second half cost Texas an opportunity to earn a quality win against Texas Tech.

Whether it’s in the form of turning the ball over or allowing second chance points, it’s the small details that are hindering the Longhorns. Smart and his team believe they have a chance to reverse that trend and develop into a solid basketball team. 

But one thing is certain: If they don’t, it will likely hurt them come March.