"I think this was a good win for us coming off a loss at Oklahoma," Isaiah Taylor said. "We needed to get back on our feet and I think it was a good win at home for us."
But while the win was worth celebrating — the Longhorns wrapped up a 16-2 home season, including an 8-1 mark at the Erwin Center in Big 12 play — it was sloppy at times, especially as Texas struggled to find its long-distance shot, going 2-for-16 from three. Javan Felix, Martez Walker and Damarcus Croaker were particularly flummoxed, going a combined 2-for-14 between the three of them.
But Texas was able to make up for that scoring inside the arc, where Taylor not only dropped in an assortment of floaters and jumpers, but also created looks for other players with five assists.
"He can shoot the ball," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "Anybody that shoots what he does from the free throw line, his percentage, can shoot it, but he's never had to shoot it. That's where he has to change his mindset."
It helped that Ridley was dominant yet again underneath, racking up 14 points and 10 rebounds. Over his last three games, he's averaging 17.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per contest.
Also stepping up to fill a need was Connor Lammert, who had his first career double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. That performance was needed, with Jonathan Holmes sitting out. In large part to Ridley and Lammert (and another seven rebounds from Demarcus Holland), Texas dominated TCU on the glass 48-32 and won the battle in the paint 30-14.
Early on, the game looked like a matchup between Texas and TCU guard Kyan Anderson, with the Horned Frogs trailing 24-14 just after the under-8 media timeout. At that point, Anderson had all 14 of TCU's points. But while Anderson eventually cooled down a bit — he finished with 28 points but hit just 1-for-8 in the second half — the Horned Frogs just continued to hang around.
They never seriously threatened, coming within six points a couple of times with under 10 minutes remaining but never got any closer, but neither did the Longhorns shake loose, keeping it between 6-and-12 down the stretch.
Holmes missed the game with a knee injury suffered against Oklahoma. To help out up front, Barnes rotated through spindly 6-9 walk-on Danny Newsome, who played a career-high eight minutes. Newsome had played six minutes all season coming in, scoring three points, and he added two more to that total in the first half when he converted a fast-break layup from Javan Felix.
TCU only had two players who had multiple field goals in the game — Anderson at 7-for-18 and Ray at 3-for-9. The rest of the team shot 4-for-27 (14.8 percent).
After the game, Anderson talked about the Horned Frogs' winless season, saying "It just feels like a big bad dream." The Frogs, laden by injuries, lack of depth and youth, have only finished within single digits of their opponents in four of 17 Big 12 games. One of those was Texas at Fort Worth, with the Longhorns pulling out a 59-54 victory despite shooting 31 percent from the floor.
TCU's final chance for a Big 12 win will come Saturday, when the Horned Frogs host Oklahoma. TCU actually beat Oklahoma a year ago in one of its two Big 12 wins over two seasons.
The Longhorns would do well to become Horned Frog fans this weekend. At 11-6, Oklahoma and Texas are tied for second, though if both teams won, the Sooners would get the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament based on their season sweep of the 'Horns.
First though, Texas must take care of its part and finish with a win in Lubbock, not an easy place for Big 12 teams to play this season. If not, Iowa State and Kansas State, both at 10-7, sit just a game back and could also catch up.
"Playing in the NCAA Tournament hasn't reached my mind yet," Taylor said. "I'm just focused on the Big 12 Tournament right now and, besides the Big 12 Tournament, our game in Lubbock this Saturday. We're trying to take it one game at a time and we're not looking past anybody."
Texas's final regular season game will tip off at 3 p.m.