A week ago, the Longhorns put together one of their worst performances of the season in a double overtime loss to Oklahoma State, which raised major questions about the direction Texas was trending with March quickly approaching. Fast forward a week, and Shaka Smart's team has shown signs of progress in stringing together back to back wins, the latest a 70-55 victory over TCU on Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center.
Despite several poor offensive performances over the past few weeks, Shaka Smart has been adamant the Longhorns needed to improve defensively if they wanted to get back on track. His team appeared to take the message heart against the Horned Frogs, holding TCU to 36.5% shooting from the field. Greg Brown and Jericho Sims avoided foul trouble, allowing the duo to control the paint and make a big impact defensively. On the offensive end, Brown finished with 13 points and connected on all 3 of his attempts from behind the arc. Sims chipped in 11 points and grabbed 8 points.
The star of the game was Texas guard Andrew Jones, who scored a team 19 points and likely would have been in for a bigger game if not for picking up his 4th foul halfway through the second half, forcing him to the bench. Jones was 0-4 from deep, but routinely got into the paint and was his midrange shot was nearly automatic all game. Fellow guard Matt Coleman filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
The win improves the Longhorns record to 13-5 on the season and 7-4 in Big 12 play. Earlier on Saturday, the NCAA selection committee revealed their current top 16 teams, with Texas checking at #15 (a 4 seed).
Texas absolutely had to have this game if they hoped to maintain favorable seeding with the NCAA tournament fast approaching. The biggest takeaway from the victory is the play of Greg Brown and Jericho Sims. If the last few games are any indication, Shaka Smart appears to have settled with Brown, Sims, Brock Cunningham and Kai Jones as his big men. Royce Hamm has not seen the floor since the Oklahoma State game. The shortened rotation means Smart will lean heavily on Brown and Sims to give Texas extended minutes and avoid foul trouble, something both players have struggled with at times this season. Brown's outside shot has been excellent the last two games, and his ability to stretch the floor will give Texas another dimension to their offense.
Texas will return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Longhorns in Austin several weeks ago, 80-79, in a game that Shaka Smart and several players missed. Tip off is set for 8 PM.