STILLWATER, Okla. — TCU students had a rollicking good time last weekend in a 15-point win over Texas. “Just like football!” they chanted in the second half.
Oklahoma State students took trolling to the next level Saturday during an 84-71 win over the Longhorns at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Longhorns’ two most high-profile sports have taken some incredible lumps this athletic year. Athletic director Mike Perrin, who rarely makes road trips, watched Shaka Smart’s bunch give up an eight-point lead and get blasted in the second half.
From Lawrence, Kan., to Fort Worth to Stillwater, where the Longhorns go, misery follows, it seems.
“I’m tired of losing on the road, and I know everybody else is,” said freshman Andrew Jones, who had 16 points. “We’ve got to find a way. Be the aggressors.”
Texas (10-15, 4-8 Big 12) is now 0-8 in true road games this season, but this one felt like a real setback. Against TCU and Oklahoma State, the Horns allowed the opponent to shoot 50 percent or better. Between those two losses, Texas kept a ridiculously talented Iowa State squad in check for 65 points.
So what gives? Has this team, no better than it is, possibly peaked? This is the same bunch that should have won at Michigan and Georgia and gave Iowa State and Kansas quite a scare at their place. Looking at the defensive slippage, why is Texas regressing on the road?
“Well, I know (the media’s) job is to simplify,” Smart said. “If you want to say that, obviously that’s your choice. But I think a lot of it has to do with the opponent, the day. Certainly our last two games on the road we have not been as good defensively as we needed to be or have been in other games.”
The Longhorns started this one well, as is their custom. They checked all the boxes that Smart demands — high energy, intensity, single-mindedness. Jarrett Allen got off to a great start with three dunks as part of his 18-point day. He had 10 rebounds and left NBA scouts drooling with one play in particular.
— Will Baizer (@WillBaizer) February 11, 2017
Twice, Allen stepped into the passing lane for an easy steal. The second time, he went galloping off the other way and threw down a vicious one-handed jam. He also had a two-handed flush on the next trip down, giving the Horns a 23-15 lead.
That second dunk was a wake-up call for the home team. Beginning with Phil Forte’s 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 55 seconds before halftime, Oklahoma State (16-9, 5-7) went on a sizzling 20-2 run fueled by six consecutive made baskets.
Jeffrey Carroll practically threw in a 3-point prayer over Kendal Yancy’s head just before halftime. Asked what he thought about it, OSU’s Davon Dillard said, “We are going to win, for sure. That just lets you know for sure that this is our game.”
The Cowboys started the second half with another 10-0 run. The Horns got within 11 with 11:27 remaining but never really threatened the rest of the day. The second-half highlight was Dillard’s ridiculous one-handed put-back dunk that should land him on “SportsCenter.”
— OSU Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) February 11, 2017
“We were all hyped up. We knew we had to come with it,” Allen said, noting how OSU would be seeking revenge for dropping the first game at the Erwin Center on Jan. 4.
“We just can’t finish out games,” the talented freshman added. “In this game, we were up eight. We’ve got to keep being the aggressors. It’s us. We’ve got to figure out how to end games.”
Allen’s overall performance will mask his day at the free-throw line. He went 0 for 7 and blamed it on a slight wrist injury. Of course, this came one game after he drilled the winning free throws with 7.2 seconds left against the Cyclones.
Overall, the Horns were 9 for 18 at the stripe, abysmal even for their low standards. As bad as the football program has been this decade, the free-throw shooting in Austin has been equally woeful.
For his part, Smart never really wavers in his tone with reporters. Allen said the coach always keeps a positive message in the locker room. It sounded as if OSU coach Brad Underwood got a little worked up with his players, though.
“I can’t do what I did every day at pregame and shoot-around,” Underwood said. “I was pretty animated today. And I was challenged by their energy level, their emotion and their desire to want to be great.”
Sounds like a good question. Do the Longhorns want to be great, too?
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.