With Selection Sunday just three days away, the Texas Longhorns should be very nervous.
Texas (20-13) needed to reach the Big 12 Tournament semifinals to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament but instead will be sweating the next few days, after dropping a heart-breaking 69-67 decision to Iowa State on Thursday night.
The No. 7-seeded Longhorns led much of the game and didn’t trail until Monte Morris sank an 18-foot buzzer-beating jumper to give the No. 2 Cyclones the victory. Texas was held scoreless over the last 3:56 of the game as Iowa State scored the final 12 points.
Morris drew the Cyclones even at 67 with a triple with 1:42 left. The teams then exchanged empty possessions.
Texas got the ball back with 38.1 seconds left and had two opportunities to retake the lead. The Longhorns worked the shot clock down before sophomore Isaiah Taylor knifed through the lane. Taylor, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting, came up short of the shot, however Texas was able to corral the carom. The Longhorns then kicked the ball out to Javan Felix, but his long-range three-pointer went awry.
“We just didn’t finish it,” Longhorn coach Rick Barnes said.
Finishing has been a problem for an underachieving Texas team that started the season ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Longhorns led or were close late in the game in four of the last five games that they lost. Texas’ loss to No. 13 Iowa State was their seventh single digit loss to ranked opponents.
Texas is only 6-6 in its last 12 games and has an RPI of 43. The Longhorns are 2-10 against RPI Top 25 teams and 3-12 against Top 50 teams. Texas’ most impressive win was probably their 71-57 victory over Iowa in the 2K Classic though the Longhorns did defeat Baylor 71-69 at home on March 2.
The best part of Texas’ resume is probably that the Longhorns are 3-1 in neutral games and they have four true road wins though none against likely NCAA tournament teams. The Longhorns also don’t have a terrible loss, going 9-0 against teams with an RPI of greater than 150. Texas also has a pair of talented youngsters in Taylor and Myles Turner.
While the Longhorns appear to be on the bubble, the nation’s top three bracketologists — ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS Sport’s Jerry Palm and USA Today’s Shelby Mast — have Texas in the field of 68. However, ESPN’s Eamon Brennan has Texas squarely on the bubble.
Lunardi currently has the Longhorns among his last four in, as a No. 11.
Palm has Texas solidly in at a No. 9 seed.
Mast also has the Longhorns among his last four in, but as a No. 12 seed.
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