Texas Men Face Tough Choices in Big 12 Tourney

The University of Texas surprised much of the nation, playing like a Top 5 team for much of the men's college basketball season. However, a late-season swoon caused their chances for a possible No. 1 seed to dip a bit.

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The Longhorns finished their conference schedule by losing three of their last five. Only a victory over Baylor in the last regular season game saved them from falling all the way down to a No. 3 seed. They head into the Big 12 Conference tournament as the second seed after finishing behind Kansas for the conference title.

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The question now is: does Texas go all out trying to win the conference tournament and possibly clinch a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? The Longhorns certainly seem like a team that may have peaked too early. With 11 victories in its first 11 conference games, Texas was beating opponents by an average of 17.5 points in Big 12 play. The Longhorns were also averaging 72 points per game and allowing just 54.6 per game.

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Only a 23-point victory over Iowa State in its last five saved Texas from seeing that average margin of victory dropping to -1. Texas still averaged just at 72 points per game in those final four contests (ignoring Iowa State and its 3-13 Big 12 record), but the biggest problem came on defense, when the Longhorns gave up 72 points a game. Adding in the Iowa State game drops that to 68.6, but it's still markedly higher than the beginning of conference play.

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I don't want to try and play too many games with the numbers, but it does seem like Texas had some defensive struggles in those losses. If it's due to fatigue, wouldn't it be better for Texas to lose early in the Big 12 tourney? Four grueling games in four days probably won't do that team any favors.

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I'm sure head coach Rick Barnes isn't going to throw a game, but if the Longhorns are trailing late on Thursday or Friday, I wonder if he might give his bench a little more run. You know, for the experience.

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