Texas Basketball: Loss to Tech Puts Tournament Hopes on the Ropes

Chris Dukes

Despite leading by as many as 16 points on its home floor, Texas found itself an all-too-familiar feeling in 2020 so far - just a couple of plays away from a win. 

"This one really really stings," Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. "As a coach, your job is to set the right example for your team. So it certainly would be easy to say in a vacuum how a game like this makes you feel - and it certainly does, it's a gut punch for sure - but if I don't respond then I can't expect our guys to respond."

Texas has played well enough to have teams like Texas Tech on the ropes in the first half and well enough to lead at halftime at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawerence, but as wins continue to slip through the Longhorns' fingers, the chances of making the NCAA Tournament get thinner and thinner. 

At 4-6 in conference play and 14-9 overall, the Longhorns need wins - and quality wins - to help their chances to make the Big Dance at this point.  

Texas entered this back-to-back stretch of home games against Texas Tech and Baylor needing at the very least to get a split to set up a run for the tournament. Now that split will require a win against the No. 1 team in the country on Big Monday. 

The schedule is what it is, obviously," Smart said. "Baylor is a terrific team and they are having a phenomenal season. It's a great opportunity, but that means we have to play at a really really high level for 40 minutes."

A signature win over Baylor would certainly help, but the math isn't in Texas' favor down the stretch. Most believe the team needs at least five more conference victories and probably a couple in the Big 12 Tournament to get on the right side of the bubble at this point. While talk about the postseason continues to swirl, Smart is trying to keep things as simple as possible for his players. 

"(We have to) Win, just win," Smart said. "I mean we talked a lot about it (the overall standings) coming into this game. Yeah, particularly with Texas Tech coming in one game ahead of us in the standings. Our guys are very aware of where we are and where we stand and what we need to do."

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