It was an all too familiar scene. Missouri had a 10-point lead with three minutes left, but the Longhorns still had some fight left in them. Texas clawed back into the game, but with five seconds left and a one-point deficit, freshman guard Myck Kabongo heaved an ill-advised floater that missed badly.
“On that last play, we had two plays ready for man [man-to-man defense], one for zone [defense], and we didn’t move, cut the way we needed to. What we wanted to do we didn’t do as hard and as effective as we had to,” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. “It’s not good enough.”
It was later explained that Kabongo was fouled on the final shot and the Texas players, Barnes and the officiating crew acknowledged the missed call after the game. But Barnes won’t say that is why the Longhorns lost. It was an inability to run a consistent offense that hurt them.
“I don’t think it ever gets down to one play,” Barnes said. “He did get fouled. [The referees] saw the tape afterwards and said he was. But over the course of your lifetime you are going to be on the end of some of those plays. It’s going to happen.”
The Longhorns had, for the most part, kept the nation’s fourth-best team in check, but its own miscues kept them from putting them away. It wasn’t a particularly stellar statistical performance on a night when it had to be at its best to take down Missouri. Instead, an average outing helped the Longhorns drop to 0-7 in games decided by six points or less.
Texas only had five assists all night, meaning that it relied on a lot of one-on-one basketball against Missouri’s quick-moving zone defense. Barnes was alright with this offensive scheme as long as it meant his players were getting to the free throw line. They got there, but they only hit 67 percent on the game, going 16-24 from the charity strip. The Longhorns ended with a paltry .38 turnover-to-assist ratio, well below its average of 1.00.
“Well we were driving the gaps early, and when we were good against the zone we drove the gaps and got the ball there and got great looks at it,” Barnes said. “And when we did feed the ball into the post, those were the shots we were missing. Then offensively, we just stood around and then didn’t drive the gaps like we needed to, and the thing that gets me is that we shot 42 percent.”
Texas also played poor defense and surrendered easy buckets in the second half to the Tigers. Missouri shot 48 percent on the night, and 59 percent in the second half by picking apart Texas’ out-muscled man-to-man defensive strategy.
“In the second half we gave up too many easy points,” Barnes said. “When [Missouri] is just lining up one-on-one you can’t just keep deflating you back inside, and raising up on you.”
Kabongo said this game’s the run-that-fell-short was telling of what Texas is capable of.
“Speaking for my teammates, [the comeback] shows we had some fight,” he said. “Every guy in that locker room wants to win so bad.”
Instead of walking out of the Frank Erwin Center with the signature win it lacks to impress the tournament committee, Texas did just enough to make sure it lost. The little things that Missouri, Baylor and Kansas make sure to clean up every night are things Barnes feels are lost right now on this young Texas squad. It’s what the Longhorns will need to close these tight games.
“[Missouri] is a tremendous offensive team, because they are playing with an older group of guys that a year ago really struggled,” Barnes said. When you look at them now you can tell ... they’ve all bought into their roles. They do a great job.”
Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Longhorns lose fourth straight