The start of an arduous Big 12 schedule has not showed kindness to Shaka Smart and the Longhorns.
Texas (10–6, 2–2 Big 12) dropped its second straight contest and fourth home game this year, blowing a halftime lead to the conference’s current kingpin. No. 8 Texas Tech (15–1, 4–0 Big 12) surged in the second half, utilizing a 13-3 run in the latter portion of the period to establish a 68-62 victory.
Former South Dakota State shooting guard Matt Mooney was the unstoppable force scoring through Texas’ defense. The senior pitched in a season-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and his lethal presence beyond the arc sparked the Red Raiders coming out of halftime.
The Longhorns built a 30-26 halftime lead in the Frank Erwin Center behind the emergence of Kerwin Roach II. The shooting guard displayed aggressiveness on offense early, consistently getting to the rim to propel the offense. Roach led the team with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Texas also received a hand on both sides of the ball from its athletic freshman center Jaxson Hayes. Hayes scored 15 points on 75 percent shooting on one end of the court, while locking up Texas Tech’s center, Norense Odiase, on the other.
The Longhorns and Red Raiders were deadlocked at 48 apiece as eight minutes remained on the scoreboard. Less than five minutes later, Texas Tech slowly separated the gap between the teams to create a 61-51 advantage. Texas closed the deficit with low-post domination from Hayes and 3-point shooting by guard Jase Febres, but the Red Raiders never allowed their rival within one possession. Lights-out free throw shooting in the final minute provided Texas Tech seven points it needed to secure the road victory.
Although Texas can cross off the No. 8 team in the nation off its schedule for now, the obstacles sitting between the Longhorns and an NCAA Tournament bid remain dangerous. Texas battles ranked teams in each of its next five conference matchups, with the first occurring Monday night against No. 7 Kansas.
Tipoff at Allen Fieldhouse is set for 8 p.m., and the Longhorns will garner a nationally televised appearance on ESPN.