Texas Longhorns

Texas coach Shaka Smart calls to his players during the first half on an NCAA college basketball game against Kent State, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texas’ woes continue with home loss to Kent State

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Texas has problems.

That’s not exactly new information, but the Longhorns’ issue were laid bare Tuesday as they lost at home to Kent State, 63-58, in yet another display of missed free throws, absent 3-point shooting, an inability to clean the glass and bad late-game execution for coach Shaka Smart’s squad.

Before the season, Texas looked as though it could potentially stake a claim as the league’s second-best team – behind Kansas, obviously – with incoming McDonald’s All-American freshman Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones providing a major infusion of talent to go along with returnees like Kerwin Roach, Tevin Mack, Eric Davis and Shaquille Cleare. The loss of Isaiah Taylor was going to hurt, sure, but in what was supposed to be a down year in the Big 12, it wasn’t far-fetched to see this team contend.

Instead, just two days ahead of league play, it isn’t hard to make the argument Texas is the worst team in the Big 12.

The Longhorns’ resume up to this point had some built-in mitigating factors. Northwestern looks like it might actually get to an NCAA tournament and Colorado has been solid, so losses on a neutral floor in November aren’t major red flags. Nobody is going to feel good to a loss at home to UT-Arlington, but the Mavericks have currently won nine straight, including a victory over St. Mary’s. Setbacks to Michigan and Arkansas don’t seem to be any great sin, either.

Individually, you can reason those losses away. Taken together, though, it paints a pretty unflattering non-conference portrait of Texas. The latest brushstroke, Tuesday’s home loss to the Golden Flashes, brings all that into stark relief.

All of the Longhorns’ troubles were on full display.

Terrible 3-point shooting? Check. Texas, ranked outside the top-300 in 3-point percentage nationally, was 2 of 18 from deep, going nearly 27 minutes between makes.

Awful from the line? You bet. The Longhorns were 14 of 24 (58.3 percent) from the stripe in an effort that will drag down their already poor team mark of 67.2 percent.

Questionable rebounding ability? Rearing its head again. Texas gave up 22 offensive rebounds (over 50 percent of the Flashes’ misses) to give Kent State, which shot 37.7 percent, the leeway to spray and pray.

Late game miscues? Present and accounted for. Down by just one with 1 minute, 17 seconds left, Texas gave up an offensive rebound that led to a layup, missed inside, gave up a dunk, allowed an offensive board on a free throw and surrendered another dunk.

Texas did what Texas has done throughout much of this year, just in maybe more extreme fashion than normal.

The Longhorns appear to be primed to fall far short of preseason expectations which spells potential disaster for them in a Big 12 that looks as though it will far exceed preseason expectations. In what was supposed to be a down year, Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia all appear to be potential top-10 teams while Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU have combined for just eight losses.

That would be a major problem for most coaches at a school as resource-rich as Texas, but in Austin, it might not produce more than a few grumbles from the dedicated few bona fide basketball fans. The rest of the fanbase will be too fixated in getting around-the-clock updates on what Tom Herman and the football program are up to.

At many schools, fan passion and interest is often a selling point for administrators trying to lure coaches to run their programs. At Texas, the opposite may be true. Basketball mediocrity can be tolerated long enough for a coach to find his footing while football garners the bulk of the interest and ire.

Smart’s success on the recruiting trail and his track record at VCU strongly suggest he’ll get Texas moving in the right direction, even if it take a more roundabout detour than most were expecting. The great thing about the Texas job is that many might not really take notice until those wins start arriving in a year or two.

No. 22 Texas’ backcourt struggles in loss to Colorado

Texas' Kerwin Roach Jr. (12) shoots over Colorado's Wesley Gordon (1) and Derrick White (21) during the first half of a consolation NCAA college basketball game in the Legends Classic tournament Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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The questions coming into this season surrounding Texas’ backcourt remain not only unanswered by seemingly more pertinent to the Longhorns as they return home to Austin from Brooklyn.

Texas went 0-for-2 in its Big Apple swing with a 68-54 loss to Colorado on Tuesday, just a day after the 22nd-ranked Longhorns fell by 19 to Northwestern in the Legends Classic.

The backcourt figured to be an issue for the Longhorns after Isaiah Taylor, somewhat surprisingly, decided to jump to the NBA early, ultimately going undrafted. Against the Buffaloes, Kerwin Roach led the Longhorns in scoring with 16 points, but needed 6 of 16 shooting from the floor, including 1 of 4 from 3-point range to get there. Eric Davis went 3 of 11 from the field (1 of 6 from deep) while Kendal Yancy was 0 of 3 overall.

If your starting backcourt goes 9 of 30 from the field and 2 of 11 from 3-point range, you’re going to have problems. And that came on the heels of that starting trio going 7 of 20 from the floor in the blowout loss to Northwestern.

There’s little reason to panic for the Longhorns, though, given how early it is and the talent on the roster. Davis and Roach are both just sophomores both being asked to take over bigger roles this season.Ultimately, Texas is going to be leaning on its McDonald’s All-American freshmen, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen, to be significant contributors once Big 12 play starts. The Longhorns have some time for their backcourt to adjust to new roles and for the team to develop an identity with so many new players and people with new responsibilities.

As for Colorado, it was an impressive response from a narrow loss the previous night to Notre Dame. Derrick White hit 7 of 10 shots for 16 points while George King was 5 of 9 for 12. The Buffaloes corralled 17 offensive rebounds as well, and are increasingly looking like a potential contender with the three teams – Oregon, Arizona and UCLA – considered to be at the top of the Pac-12, especially with Arizona’s issues.

Five-star Bowen cuts list to six

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Mississippi Rebels and Xavier Musketeers players run by the logo at mid-court during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Five-star 2017 prospect Brian Bowen has trimmed his list of possible collegiate destinations to six.

Creighton, North Carolina State, UCLA, Michigan State, Arizona and Texas are still under consideration, Bowen announced Wednesday evening.

Bowen, a consensus top-20 recruit, is a 6-foot-8 small forward out of Sagniaw, Mich., but he currently is attending the prestigious La Lumiere School in Indiana. He’s also the cousin of former Michigan State star Jason Richardson, leaving many to believe that he’s a heavy Spartan lean.

“People think I’m 100 percent to Michigan State,” Bowen told Brendan Quinn of MLive.com earlier this month. “I love them to death and I’ve been there my whole life and everything — it’s a great coaching staff and everything — but I’m not 100 percent to a school until I commit there. Right now, I’m open to the schools that are recruiting.”

Bowen hasn’t said when he plans on making a final decision.

Texas bolsters 2017 frontcourt

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Shaka Smart has added another four-star forward to his 2017 recruiting class.

Texas picked up a commitment Tuesday from 6-foot-8 Jericho Sims of Minnesota, according to multiple reports.

Sims, who visited Texas this past weekend, is ranked in the top-50 by Scout and in the top-75 by ESPN and 247Sports. He joins Royce Hamm, a top-100 forward from Houston, as members Smart’s second recruiting class at Texas.

“Jericho Sims is a late-blooming big man who has a lot of room to grow in terms of upside,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “A good athlete with a good frame to work with, Sims should help immediately on the glass and defensively but his offense will be a work in progress.

“Texas has a large recruiting class and targeted Sims later than many, so this is a nice commitment for the Longhorns.”

The commitment represents a significant get for the Longhorns, who beat out the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, Connecticut and Sims’ hometown Gophers, whom his father played basketball for in the 1970s and his brother football more recently.

Sims and Hamm both are players that could help Smart and his staff transition more back to the Havoc style of play Smart employed at VCU as both have the length, speed and athleticism to help the Longhorns dial up the pressure and push tempo.

Tulane transfer Osetkowski picks Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Tulane transfer Dylan Osetkowski has committed to Texas, according to multiple reports.
The 6-foot-8 forward will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after deciding to leave the Green Wave upon the firing of coach Ed Conroy last month. The Longhorns locked him up following a visit to Austin last weekend, keeping him from making a visit to Sean Miller and Arizona that was schedule for this upcoming weekend.
As a transfer, Osetkowski won’t be able to provide an instant boost inside for coach Shaka Smart, who lost interior players Connor Lammert, Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley to graduation this season, but he’ll give the Longhorns a future option inside starting in 2017.
Texas will add top-100 center James Brooks next season, but the Longhorns will need frontcourt reinforcements and Osetkowski will eventually provide that. He averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds as a sophomore last year for Tulane.

UConn snaps Texas’ six-game winning streak 71-66

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Rodney Purvis scored 16 points and led a second half rally as Connecticut beat Texas 71-66 Tuesday night, snapping the Longhorns’ six-game winning streak.

Shonn Miller and Daniel Hamilton added 13 points apiece for UConn (9-3) and former Longhorn Sterling Gibbs scored 12.

Freshman Tevin Mack led Texas (8-4) with a season-best 20 points, and Isaiah Taylor scored 19.

Texas led 53-52 after Mack made his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 8:18 remaining. Then Purvis asserted himself with two driving shots, an assist on a basket by Jalen Adams, and a 3-pointer that gave UConn a 61-55 lead with 4:27 left.

After Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3:49 remaining, Purvis made another basket.

Six straight points by Taylor pulled Texas within two, 65-63, with 33 seconds left, but UConn made six throws in the final 27 seconds, four by Gibbs.