Texas drops Big 12 Championship quarterfinal game in staggering 65-60 loss to TCU

Nick Pannes, Sports Reporter

Fans that traveled to Kansas City, Missouri., to see No. 22 Texas face TCU in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship could have left at halftime fully confident the Longhorns would walk right into the semifinals round. With a commanding 40–22 Texas lead. ESPN estimated a 97.5% probability of a Texas victory near the end of the first half.

Yet, the defending Big 12 Tournament Champions squandered their advantage and suffered their biggest upset of the season thus far, losing 65–60 in the closing seconds of the game.

“I hate to lose more than I like to win,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said. “I’ve got some guys I’m trying to teach that to. Winning’s an art. Our guys are out there trying to just win the game, but they don’t really understand how you get there.”

By all logic, this was Texas’ game to win. The Longhorns won both of their previous contests against TCU earlier in the season by a combined total of 31 points. TCU’s biggest threat, dynamic defender and leading scorer sophomore guard Mike Miles, was hamstrung by an ankle injury.

Texas fired on all cylinders in the first half. Senior forward Timmy Allen and senior guard Courtney Ramey conducted an offense that saw eight players score off the back of a team-wide 10 assists. The Longhorns shot 7-of-11 from three and 65.2% from the field.

The Horned Frogs couldn’t even crack 30% shooting in the first half. Only two TCU players made more than one basket. Miles, who has averaged 15.1 points per game this season, went 0-of-5 from three and 1-of-8 overall. All of this culminated in an 18-point lead at halftime.

Yet, TCU came out of the gates strong in the second half and easily reversed the momentum in the opening minutes. Texas stymied TCU’s offensive explosion for a while, but their seemingly insurmountable lead gradually fell apart. 

Then, with 12:07 remaining, the Longhorns inexplicably lost their ability to shoot the ball. Over the next six minutes, TCU outscored Texas 16-2, taking a one-point lead. Texas went 3-of-16 from the field after the 12-minute mark, while TCU made 8-of-12.

Junior guard Damion Baugh ended the game as the leading scorer on the court with 17 points and four assists. Miles regained his shooter’s touch and scored 11 points in the second half, including an eight-point burst of back-to-back threes and free-throws right after the 12-minute mark.

Thursday’s game was the third straight loss for Texas, all of which have been marred by poor shooting. This time, Beard highlighted his team’s attitude during the second half as a factor in the loss.

“I think we’ve got a bunch of guys that think they have the answers, but they really don’t,” Beard said. “Guys who know how to win hate to lose. Hopefully … Timmy (Allen) and (senior guard) Marcus (Carr), their answer eventually will be, ‘Let me go follow some guys who know how to do this, guys that have been in the NCAA Tournament.’”

Thursday’s loss could mean Texas drops from a projected fourth to a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament. TCU could also rise from their spot as a projected tenth seed, especially if they win again in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.