Texas a team that can’t shoot straight in a los­ing skid

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Jim Ver­tuno

AUSTIN—Texas has trou­bles. A lot of them. The Longhorns can’t shoot, are strug­gling to re­bound even against smaller teams and have lost three in a row to drop out of the Top 25 as quickly as they got in just two weeks ago.

What hap­pened to the team that looked so good in beat­ing then-No. 7 North Carolina on Thanks­giv­ing? Coach Shaka Smart would like to know.

“Less than two weeks ago we were 5-0 and beat the No. 7 team in the coun­try with the same five guys,” Smart said af­ter Texas lost to VCU, his for­mer team, on Wed­nes­day. “Our last two and a half games we haven’t played with the same con­fi­dence. We haven’t played with the same swag­ger. And when the games

have been close, we haven’t made the big plays we need to make.”

The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in all three losses has been woe­ful shoot­ing.

Texas (5-3) is 311th out of 351 ma­jor col­lege teams in shoot­ing per­cent­age (40.4). They are even worse shoot­ing 3-point­ers (28.9 per­cent, 313th na­tion­ally).

“I do sense when the ball’s not go­ing in, some play­ers, their con­fi­dence goes down, start see­ing head drops,” guard Jase Fe­bres said Fri­day.

The day af­ter beat­ing North Carolina, Texas led Michi­gan State by 19 mid­way through the first half be­fore the Spar­tans came storm­ing back. Texas shot 22 per­cent in the sec­ond half and lost by 10.

Against Rad­ford, the Longhorns went 4 of 14 over the fi­nal 10 min­utes. They led VCU 49-45 be­fore com­mit­ting eight turnovers over the next five min­utes and lost 54-53 de­spite hold­ing VCU un­der 30 per­cent shoot­ing in the sec­ond half.

In those home losses to Rad­ford and VCU, Texas missed open 3-point­ers in the fi­nal sec­onds that would have won or tied the game. VCU play­ers cel­e­brated with “horns down” hand sig­nals on Texas’ home­court while their fans chanted “V-C-U” loud enough to echo through the hall­ways in the bow­els of the arena.

No Texas player has been mis­fir­ing more than se­nior guard Ker­win Roach II.

Roach flirted with a move to the NBA af­ter his junior sea­son and his de­ci­sion to stay set him up to be Texas’ key player on both ends of the court. But af­ter a ca­reer game with 32 points and five as­sists against North Carolina, Roach’s game and shoot­ing touch have dis­ap­peared.

He was 2 of 12 against Rad­ford and on de­fense gave up the go-ahead layup and a foul for a 3-point play with less than 30 sec­ond left. He was 1 of 11 against VCU.

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