AUSTIN, Texas — The penultimate home game of the 2021-22 regular season and in the lifespan of the Erwin Center as the home arena for the Texas program sees the 20th-ranked Longhorns hosting TCU on Wednesday (6 p.m., ESPN2) with a lot on the line. Texas (19-8, 8-6 Big 12) entered the week as a projected No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament according to the Jerry Palm of CBS Sports with the Horned Frogs in Palm’s latest field of 68 projection as a No. 9 seed, head coach Chris Beard said ahead of the game that facing head coach Jamie Dixon and TCU (17-8, 6-7) is one of four opportunities the Longhorns have in front of them to hit their stride before the postseason.
“It’s a great time of year,” said Beard on Tuesday, noting he was getting ready to head to practice and discuss the March Madness outlook with his squad. A lot of the things that we set out for as a team, including the No. 1 goal is right there in front of us. We control our own destiny in a lot of ways. Four meaningful games here left in the regular season as we all position for our seating in the Big 12 Tournament Kansas City — chance to compete for a championship there — and certainly March Madness right around the corner. I think above all, it’s great to kind of be in a great mental place this time of year. I think a lot of teams, the grind can kind of take you over and special teams, the grind can kind of springboard you into the best time of year.
“Look, these guys put up with me all season long to get to March and have some fun, and I put up a few of them all year long to get to March to have some fun. I think it’s just important that we understand that this is the best time of year and we’ve got to find that positive culture, that joy and that eagerness to go out and play.”
Horns247 is on the scene, providing live updates throughout the evening. Stay locked in as the Longhorns look to pick up another quality victory, which would achieve the program’s first 20-win regular season in nearly a decade (the 2013-14 team had 22 wins heading into the postseason):
Texas: Marcus Carr (10.7 points, 3.4 assists per game); Andrew Jones (10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds per game); Courtney Ramey (9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds per game); Timmy Allen (11.7 points, 6.4 rebounds per game); Christian Bishop (6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds)
TCU: Mike Miles (14.7 points, 4.1 assists per game); Damion Baugh (10.5 points, 4.3 rebounds per game); Chuck O’Bannon Jr. (9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds per game); Emanuel Miller (10.7 points, 6.4 rebounds per game); Eddie Lampkin (6.5 points, 6.0 rebounds per game)
—The Longhorns hold a one-point lead over the Horned Frogs, 8-7, at the 15:15 mark, which is when the under-16 media timeout occurs. Texas opens the game 3-for-8 from the field, a decent start for a squad looking to improve on the season-low 28.3-percent shooting (17-for-60) in Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech.
— The first four points coming out of the first media timeout are scored by the Longhorns and the field goals come from two players who the team needs to step up if they’re going to make a run in March. Carr gets downhill for a layup, getting on the board early after an 0-for-6 scoreless outing in the loss to the Red Raiders. Dylan Disu rebounds a missed shot by Allen, goes back up strong and gets a bucket. Disu hasn’t had a game with multiple field goals since a Jan. 8 road loss to Oklahoma State and Tre Mitchell (personal reasons) away from the team and missing his third game in a row, Texas needs the Vanderbilt transfer to make positive contributions on both ends of the floor.
— Micah Peavy, who played for Beard’s Texas Tech club last season, knocks down a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Texas bench to put the Horned Frogs in front of the Longhorns, 17-14, thanks to an 8-0 run. Peavy then completes a nasty alley-oop over Jase Febres. The 10-0 run puts TCU up by five, 19-14, with 10:23 to play until halftime.
— After a string of seven straight field goals helps the Horned Frogs build a lead, Texas gets back into the game following four missed shots in a row with a jumper from the elbow by Jones snapping the TCU run. With Jones and Bishop doing the work, the Longhorns cut the deficit to one, 21-20, when the under-8 media timeout comes with 7:53 remaining in the half.
— With the shot-clock winding down, O’Bannon knocks down a step-back three over the outstretched arm of Disu to give the Horned Frogs a four-point lead, 26-22, with 5:22 to go. Shooting 61.1 percent from the field (11-for-18), including going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, TCU’s shot-making ability has been impressive, to say the least, heading into the home stretch of the first half.
— Another bucket by the Horned Frogs beats the shot clock, this one by a review-confirmed jumper by Peavy in the lane with 4:33 on the clock. With the 13 first-half field goals, TCU is closing in on the 18 shots it made (18-for-50) in the loss to Texas in Fort Worth. The Longhorns hit the under-4 stoppage in an 0-for-4 shooting slump, going the last 3:10 of game time without making a basket.
— Even with TCU going 14-for-22 from the field to open the game, Texas makes it a two-point game, 32-30, with 1:05 remaining in the half when Jones fights his way to the cup for a bucket. Shooting the ball well enough (11-for-26) and taking care of it (one turnover) are keeping the Longhorns in the game through a half where getting stops on defense has been an issue.
— Cunningham forces a traveling call on O’Bannon when the TCU forward attempts a shot fake and drive from the 3-point line with 41.9 seconds to go. Unfortunately, the Longhorns turn it over at the other end, presenting the Horned Frogs with a chance to get the final possession of the half.
— Francisco Farabello make the last TCU possession count, nailing a 3-pointer from the corner before the horn goes off. The fifth three of the half for the Horned Frogs (5-for-7) ends a red-hot shooting half (65.2 percent) for Dixon’s club, who hold a five-point halftime lead over the Longhorns.
HALFTIME: TCU 35, Texas 30
— After scoring six points on 3-for-4 shooting in the first half, Jones opens the second half with a turnover courtesy of a traveling call. The second dead-ball turnover for the Longhorns in as many possessions helps the Horned Frogs open up a seven-point lead, 37-30 when Baugh gets a bucket at the other end of the floor. Texas stops the bleeding when Carr drives on Peavy and Baugh, stopping and hitting a jumper for the first Longhorn basket of the second half.
— The offense for Texas coming out of halftime is getting the ball in Carr’s hands and letting him play downhill. Following two free throws on a drive down the left side of the lane coming off of a screen by Bishop leads to O’Bannon fouling him on his way up for an attempted layup, Carr breaks Farabello down off of the dribble, going to the left side of the lane and finishing with his right hand to account for a 6-0 run by himself. Dixon calls a timeout with 17:42 on the clock and the Longhorns threatening to take the lead for the first time since the 13:06 mark of the first half.
— TCU comes back with a strong answer in the form of a 6-0 run capped by a Francisco 3-pointer in front of his own bench. A nice baseline drive by Askew, who finds Allen for a bucket, ends the run with 15:23 on the clock and the Longhorns down by six, 44-38. That’s where things stand when Carr gets whistled for his third personal foul with 15:04 to go, which triggers the under-16 media timeout.
— Back-to-back missed 3-pointers by Jones makes Texas 1-for-12 from beyond the arc. The second miss results in a transition bucket by Miles, who has a team-high 11 points for TCU. The Longhorns face their largest deficit of the game, by 13, when Beard calls a timeout with 13:48 on the clock and his squad down to the Horned Frogs, 48-38.
— A drought of more than three minutes between field goals for Texas ends when Jones muscles his way in for a layup. A foul charged to Miller results in a three-point play, which cuts the deficit to seven, 48-41, after Bishop’s nasty block of Baugh with 12 minutes remaining in regulation triggers the second media timeout of the half. TCU is shooting 60.6 percent from the field (20-for-33), including a 6-for-8 performance from beyond the arc.
— Allen swipes the ball from Peavy and rewards himself at the other end of the floor, taking the ball the length of the floor to the cup for two, where he’s fouled by Baugh. The three-points play cuts the deficit to four, 50-46, with 10:16 to go.
— The Longhorns rebound a missed 3-pointer by O’Bannon. The ball eventually finds the hands of Carr, whose one-handed runner cuts the lead to two, 50-48. Finally cooling off, TCU is in a 1-for-7 shooting slump and without a field goal for a stretch of 2:28.
— Another one-handed runner down the left side of the lane by Carr ties the game at 50. With five of their last seven shots going down, the Longhorns are on. 12-2 run. A pass by Miles out of a double team on the ensuing TCU possession is stolen by Jones, who goes all the way to the basket for two. On a 9-0 run, Texas takes a two-point lead, 52-50, with 8:13 to play. Jones will go to the line to try and complete the three-point play when play resumes following a timeout by the Horned Frogs.
— Jones makes the free throw. In addition to going up by three, 53-50, the Longhorns have now scored 24 points off of 14 turnovers by TCU.
— The Texas run of consecutive points ends at 12 one a long two from the top of the key by Jones, who has a game-high 16 points. The Longhorns own a 57-52 lead with 5:33 when Bishop is called for a foul for contesting a drive to the basket by Baugh at the rim.
— With the Horned Frogs in a 1-for-8 shooting slump and shooting 35 percent from the field (7-for-20) in the second half, Texas continues to build a lead. In addition to going 11-for-23 from the field since halftime, including making eight of their last 11 shots, Allen knocks down two foul shots to make the Longhorns 14-for-18 from the stripe on the night. Texas has a six-point lead, 59-53, with 4:27 to go.
— Lampkin fouls Jones after a missed free throw by Peavy with 4:26 to go. The Longhorns are in the double bonus the rest of the way and TCU is out of timeouts with Dixon burning his last at the 7:45 mark.
— A baseline drive by Jones leads to him getting fouled by Peavy with 3:25 to go, which triggers the final media timeout of the game. Texas has a four-point lead, 61-57.
— O’Bannon makes two free throws to make it a three-point game, 62-59. The Longhorns, however, do an outstanding job of breaking the TCU press following the second made shot from the line. The sequence ends with Jones finding Bishop streaking to the basket for a hoop and a foul. Bishop goes to the line and completes the three-point play with 2:44 to go. Carr’s rebound of a missed 3-pointer by O’Bannon and a subsequent bucket at the other end put Texas up by eight, 67-59. It’s the largest lead of the night for the Longhorns.
— Up by five with 1:19 to go, Carr goes to the deck on a foul by Peavy, who was trying to deny the Texas guard a path to the basket. Carr goes to the foul line and makes both of his shots, putting the Longhorns up by eight, 69-62.
— A turnover when pressing off of the second made free throw by Carr leads to a bucket by Bishop. For the Longhorns, 28 of their 71 points have been scored off of 16 turnovers by TCU. Texas is up by nine with 1:03 to go, 71-62.
— The lead grows to 11 when Jones knocks down two foul shots with 35.3 to go. A 24-for-29 performance from the free-throw line, including a 17-for-18 effort in the second half, has helped the Longhorns rally for their 20th win of the season.
FINAL: Texas 75, TCU 66
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism