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NCAA Basketball Big 12 BasketballTexas Longhorns

Failure to close out close games killing the Texas Longhorns this season

Brendan Maloney: USA TODAY Sports

To say that it’s been a frustrating season for the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team would be an understatement. While fans knew that this would be a year of rebuilding, it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach their sub .500 overall record and their winless record in the Big 12 Conference. Sure, the Horns are the youngest team in college basketball, ranking 314th out of 314  NCAA teams, but some day, they have to find a way to grow up.

Many fans hoped that today would be that day as they took the court against the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks. However, today’s game told the story of so many others this season; the Longhorns, once again, couldn’t hold onto a large second-half lead in the final minutes of the game, only to end up with another heartbreaking loss.

Blowing a lead is nothing new for Texas this season. In three of their four conference games so far this year, they have been unable to hold onto late leads. In addition to their loss to the Jayhawks, a game in which they led by 11 points late in the second half, they couldn’t hold on in overtime against the Baylor Bears, and they blew a 13 point second-half lead to the West Virginia Mountaineers, falling again in overtime.

Even before conference play began, the Horns suffered from an inability close out close games. They had the Michigan State Spartans within one point inside five minutes only to fall to them by nine on the road. They also blew a lead against the UCLA Bruins despite being up seven with four minutes left on the clock.

With a month and half remaining in the regular season can the Longhorns find a way to close out these close games and hold onto big leads? It’s hard to say. Their conference schedule doesn’t get much easier, though their star point guard, Myck Kabongo is expected to return from an NCAA suspension in February which could give them a bit of the experience they’ve been missing.

At this point, however, it seems that it would take a miracle for the Longhorns to make this year’s NCAA Tournament, which would be the first time in 14 years that Texas failed to earn a trip to the Big Dance.

Sure, the future looks bright for the young team, but that doesn’t make this frustrating season any easier for their fans to watch.

If they’re ever going to grow up this year, the time has to be now.