FORT WORTH, Texas — The 17th-ranked Texas Longhorns refused to give TCU a foothold as both scrapped for traction in the Big 12 race.
Texas already had a 10-point lead when it reeled off a 14-0 run in the second half to secure a 66-48 victory over TCU Monday night at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
The Horned Frogs (14-4, 1-4 Big 12) were coming off their first victory in two seasons in Big 12 play, but Texas stiff-armed TCU’s effort to make it back-to-back wins. The Longhorns (14-4, 3-2) established a 10-point lead midway through the first half and smothered the Horned Frogs on the defensive end.
Texas, playing solely zone defense for the second straight game, blocked nine shots and held TCU to 33-percent shooting from the field.
Longhorns coach Rick Barnes wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s zone defense as TCU got to the free-throw line 23 times, though the Horned Frogs converted just 39 percent from the stripe.
“We actually got some turnovers and strung it together a little bit,” Barnes said. “We weren’t as disciplined in our zone tonight. They got to the free-throw line. If they make those free throws, this is a different ball game.”
TCU coach Trent Johnson acknowledged that the free throws were a big part of the problem for the Horned Frogs. But he was more concerned with his team’s overall effort.
“We know how tough this league is, but the bottom line, if we play how we’re capable of playing, you have a decent feeling,” Johnson said. “Guys aren’t flashing to the ball with a purpose. Guys are dropping balls, shooting 9 out of 23 from the free-throw line. What’s going on there?”
Longhorns guard Javan Felix keyed the second-half surge on the offensive end. He scored nine points during the 14-0 run, including the basket that started it and the jumper that put Texas ahead 52-28 with 10:21 left.
Felix played only 10 minutes and scored just three points in the first half, but found his groove after the break.
“That’s my job,” Felix said. “That’s my role on this team, to shoot the ball. My teammates tell me keep shooting. Mostly they tell me keep shooting because if I miss it they say they’re going to get it.”
Felix finished with 15 points to lead Texas. Longhorns guard Isaiah Taylor scored 13 points with six assists and seven rebounds, and forward Myles Turner added 11 points.
Forward Kenrich Williams led TCU with 10 points.
Taylor opened the game by making a floater, then dished to forward Connor Lammert for a 3-pointer for a quick 5-0 Texas lead.
Taylor, whose previous high was 11 points since returning from a wrist injury that kept him out for 10 games, scored nine points and added four assists in the first 11 minutes. His 3-pointer put the Longhorns ahead 24-14.
“It’s slowly coming,” Taylor said. “But I owe this one to my teammates. We came in here with the objective to win and that’s what we did.”
Texas led by as many as 15 in the first half and dominated the game even more thoroughly than that margin suggests. The Longhorns took a 22-15 rebounding edge to the break and shot 54 percent from the field to TCU’s 27 percent.
However, the Horned Frogs’ overall shooting percentage in the first half seemed productive compared to their 1-of-11 3-point shooting and 3-of-11 success rate from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes. Despite that, TCU trailed just 33-20 at halftime.
Johnson said his team has shot free throws extensively in practice, but he feels like the poor shooting in games is a sign of inexperience.
“That’s mental,” Johnson said. “That’s confidence, that’s toughness, that’s all that is. Step up there with some confidence and follow through, then you have some confidence in yourself.”
NOTES: TCU snapped a 23-game losing streak in Big 12 play in its previous contest, a 62-42 victory at Texas Tech. … Texas holds a 105-62 advantage in the all-time series versus TCU, including a nine-game winning streak. The Horned Frogs have yet to defeat the Longhorns since TCU joined the Big 12 before the 2012-13 season. … Texas coach Rick Barnes is particularly successful against in-state
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