Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Despite Horton’s resurgence, Texas suffers epic collapse

Kennedy Weatherby
Guard Ithiel Horton dribbles the ball towards the basket during the conference game against the University of Central Florida on Jan. 17.

Days after suffering a loss against a piecemeal West Virginia team, all eyes were on how the reigning Big 12 Champions would respond.

Despite racing out to a 15-2 lead, Texas basketball left Wednesday’s contest with even bigger questions at hand, collapsing to UCF in a must-win game, with a final score of  77-71 in arguably the most devastating loss of the Rodney Terry era. A stunned Moody Center crowd made for the exits with time left to play, putting the cap on a night in which the home team looked in sync for one half and despondent for the other – a theme that is beginning to define Texas’ 2024 squad.

In a cruel twist of fate, two of Texas’ heroes of yesterday, Timmy Allen and Sir’Jabari Rice, were in the building to watch the program that was galvanized by interim head coach Rodney Terry a year ago, now look completely unrecognizable.

“You have to have an even keel in this game,” said Terry following the loss. “You have to have an even keel in life. And you’ve got to continue to stay the course, you’ve got to continue to work the process, continue to get better, continue to want to get better and have a passion for it at an incredible level.”

Texas got off to a hot start, leading 22-8 with ten minutes left in the first half and in a flow offensively in a way they haven’t had for much of the year. While the defense fell off a bit and let UCF begin to find a rhythm, the Longhorns entered the half 44-32, shooting 68% from the field and forcing 11 turnovers.

The Longhorns continued to look solid at the start of the second half, stringing together stops and extending the lead to 15 with less than 15 minutes to play. However, from there, the wheels fell off.

The Knights went on a 13-4 run over the next five minutes, bullying Texas down low and heating up from beyond the arc. After a three from junior guard Tyrese Hunter to stop the bleeding, graduate forward Dylan Disu checked out after picking up his fourth foul and the collapse began. 

UCF’s physicality gave Texas trouble all night and was highlighted in the final minutes as UCF attacked Texas’ guards on the perimeter, graduate guard Max Abmas in particular, penetrating the paint and converting with ease. Texas couldn’t buy a stop down the stretch and a disappearing act from graduate wing Ithiel Horton and Abmas from downtown in the final minutes salted it away.

“We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror,” Abmas said. “See the different areas that we need to improve on individually, as a team. We’ve got to be better at playing a full game, get the lead early and then sustain it throughout the game.”

“We’ve got big-time opponents coming in and the games aren’t going to get any easier, so we’ve got to figure it out.”

If there was a silver lining in the loss, it was the improved play of Horton. The UCF transfer who hadn’t scored since New Year’s Day and overall has been a bit of a disappointment after a strong start to the year enjoyed a much-needed breakout against his former squad, finishing with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. While Rodney Terry continues to tinker with lineups, Horton has been drastically more effective as a starter and while his perimeter defense can be picked on, his ability to heat up adds a much-needed element to what can be a ho-hum Texas offense.

Play on the interior remains a huge problem for Texas and was the difference tonight, as Texas lost the rebounding battle 37 to 22 and ceded 12 offensive boards to the Knights. The trio of Disu and transfers Kadin Shedrick and Ze’Rik Onyema has been an unmitigated disaster defensively against any physicality, ceding 34 points in the paint, and it killed the Longhorns once again.

Having stumbled through what looked like the easy portion of the Big 12 schedule, Texas’ margin for error if it wants a shot at the NCAA Tournament is minuscule. How Terry fares in righting the ship will be telling in his ability to lead, which is rightfully under the microscope.

“There’s no quit in that room over there,” said Terry of his locker room. “It’s 1-3, it’s not the start we wanted to Big 12 play. Every night you only keep it for one night whether you win or lose, and it’s on to the next really good opponent.”

The going doesn’t get any easier for the Longhorns, whose next six opponents are currently ranked in the AP Top 25, starting with No. 9 Baylor at home on Saturday in a game to rescue a season in freefall. Texas drops to 12-5 on the year and 1-3 in conference play.

More to Discover