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No. 15 Texas closes regular season with third straight road win



TX – There’s not an ounce of fear dwelling within Greg Brown when he’s on the court. If there were, the Texas freshman would never have dreamt of pulling off something as audacious as a midgame between-the-legs dunk.

He’d made a brilliant defensive play just moments before uncorking arguably the most outrageous in-game attempt in program history, zipping in front of TCU guard Mike Miles’ lax pass for a steal. There wasn’t a soul in Brown’s path when he gathered the ball at half court and loped toward the rim.

But Brown put a little too much sauce on it. The ball struck the rim and caromed off, out of bounds. Then the cheeky folks at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth cued up the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” theme song for added effect as the future first-round pick trotted back on defense.

In the end, Brown’s backfire didn’t matter. No. 15 Texas still dunked all over TCU during a 76-64 win Sunday and locked up a No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament, slated for March 10-13 in Kansas City.

“Our guys just did a really good job staying on message in terms of what they were saying to each other,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “They sounded like coaches out there with the things they were saying, and they stayed together. We’re up four at half, and you could tell those guys wanted to be up more.”

TCU kept it close in the first half due to a slight advantage behind the arc and at the free-throw line. So even though Texas shot 52 percent and assisted on nine of 14 field goals, the game was still a toss-up heading into intermission.

Texas (17-7, 11-6 Big 12) came out slinging fire in the second half. Redshirt junior guard Andrew Jones (16 points) started cooking from deep, then junior guard Courtney Ramey (13 points, six assists) got in on the action, pulling up for a trio of 3-point bombs and connecting with forward Kai Jones on a pristine alley-oop.

It was the most connected Texas had looked on offense in some time — it recorded a season-high 20 assists, and four Longhorns finished with at least three helpers. Brown even made up for his botched dunk with a career-best four assists and one ferocious slam off a lob from Andrew Jones.

“It’s about coming out of halftime and winning those first four minutes of the second half, and we did that, and we were able to extend the lead,” Smart said. “I thought the guys did a good job sharing the ball with each other. This was one of our best games in terms of passing and creating for each other, and the assist number shows that.”

The Longhorns found some sense of balance, too. They scored on dunks (seven), layups (six) and 3s (11). They swarmed TCU and baited it into dangerous passes, creating 22 points off a season-high 22 turnovers.

Senior guard Matt Coleman (14 points) and Ramey combined for seven steals and transformed those into scoring chances before the Horned Frogs (12-13, 5-11) could even get set. Bolstered by that defensive pressure and heady passing, Texas’ lead swelled to 18 points with 2:49 remaining.

“Just active hands, getting deflections,” Coleman said. “And then on the offensive end, we spent a lot of time talking about flowing, not holding, not letting it stick. And I still think we turned down a lot of shots, but I just think we kept with the pace throughout the whole game, and that’s what we have to continue to do.”

Texas’ win over TCU marked the end of a grueling stretch of three road games in six days. And the Longhorns didn’t stumble once throughout this week of makeup games, overcoming Iowa State and No. 16 Oklahoma to help bolster an NCAA Tournament résumé that looks worthy of a top-four seed at least.

The Longhorns now get a chance for revenge in Kansas City. They’ll face No. 6 seed Texas Tech in the quarterfinals Thursday; the Red Raiders swept the two-game season series by a total of 11 points.

Expect fireworks at the Sprint Center, which will house all 10 teams from the nation’s most competitive Division I conference. Just don’t expect Brown to try anything quite so ostentatious in the single-elimination format.

“Now you just let it hang, and you’re ready for the postseason,” Coleman said. “So it’s a new season. I always say you get new life. Just want to have fun, cherish these moments, because you know we’ve been through a lot, like every other team has been through a lot. And it’s just exciting that we can continue to play and we have an opportunity to play in March.”