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February 18, 2010, 10:30 AM ET
Tigers take Texas

by Bradford Doolittle

Yesterday, I dropped in with some preparatory thoughts on last night’s Texas-Missouri game. Since that was kind of late in the day, I wanted to check back in with some thoughts on the game’s outcome.

Missouri turned in its best overall performance of the season, knocking off the Longhorns 82-77–a score skewed by two Texas three-pointers in the last five seconds after the game was already decided. The win was crucial for the Tigers, who would have found themselves squarely on the bubble with a loss. Mizzou isn’t guaranteed a spot yet, but its position is much stronger than it was yesterday at this time. The win jumped Mizzou 10 spots in the RPI rankings, to a much more comfortable No. 37. Missouri evened its mark against Top 25 teams to 2-2 on the season and moved into a third-place tie in the Big 12, just behind second place Kansas State.

Texas has now dropped six of nine after starting the season 17-0. In yesterday’s piece, I pointed towards the inconsistent shooting of the Longhorns as being their Achilles’ Heel, especially that of their key freshman. Last night, Jordan Hamilton was impressive, scoring 24 points on 16 shots, but fellow freshmen J’Covan Brown and Avery Bradley combined for 24 points on 28 shots. Dexter Pittman was a non-factor because of foul trouble. He was limited to 12 minutes and didn’t even get an official shot from the field. A double-digit scorer the last two seasons, the burly senior has hit that mark in just two of 11 Big 12 games.

As I suggested might be the case, Missouri’s pressure was a constant problem for Texas’ young trio despite the fact that the Longhorns entered the game with the conference’s best turnover rate. Mizzou forced 18 Texas turnovers while committing just 11 miscues themselves.  More surprising was Missouri’s showing on the boards. The Tigers grabbed 17 of its 40 misses against a good-rebounding Texas team, though Missouri was typically weak on the defensive glass.

Texas fell to 6-5 in the conference and now travels to Texas Tech for another tough road game on Saturday. Is it conceivable that the Longhorns–No. 1 in the country only a few weeks ago–could play themselves all the way out of the bracket? That seems very unlikely as, despite the slump, Texas stands No. 27 in RPI. But that number gets a little bit worse with each passing game. There isn’t an easy game left on the Longhorns’ schedule, but it seems impossible that they could lose out, or even go 1-4 entering the Big 12 Tournament. That and a one-and-done showing in Kansas City is probably what would have to happen to keep Texas out of the Big Dance.

Couldn’t happen, right?

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