Texas Bows Out Early

Remember Texas' big win at Oklahoma State last Saturday? It just got even bigger following the Longhorns' 81-69 loss to lowly Colorado in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City Thursday.

If not for that shocker in Stillwater, Texas would probably be sweating it out between now and Sunday when selections are announced for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Without that win, the Horns would not have reached the critical 20-win plateau as their season record now stands at 20-10.

The worst thing that could have happened for undermanned Texas in this one -- coach Rick Barnes brought just eight available scholarship players to Kansas City and just five healthy ones -- was for F Brad Buckman to get into foul trouble. The junior was whistled for his fourth personal with 14:25 remaining and finished with five points (2-of-7 FG) in 22 minutes of playing time.

Buckman's foul trouble was indicative of Texas' front court woes as F Mike Williams picked up his fourth personal early in the second period as well. It detracted from Texas' original game plan to work the ball inside as the Buffs outscored Texas in the paint, 26-18, and outrebounded the Horns 43-34. Unfortunately, Texas' perimeter game wasn't up to the task as the Horns misfired on 26-of-35 three-point attempts and shot 34 percent (20-of-58) from the field. Senior G Sydmill Harris (still playing with a groin injury) endured his most difficult night of the year, misfiring on all seven three-point attempts. The Horns hit 20-of-29 foul shots.

Junior Kenton Paulino logged just his third start of the season and led Texas in scoring with 16 points, one of four Longhorns to score in double figures. Paulino limped off the court with 69 seconds remaining, apparently having re-aggravated the toe that he dislocated against Iowa State on February 4. Freshman F Dion Dowell, the latest member in Texas' M.A.S.H. unit, played just seven minutes after injuring his right knee at Oklahoma State.

It was a night where little went right for the Horns. Colorado entered the contest with a five-game losing streak, including three setbacks at home. The Buffs have only five wins all season against Big 12 competition, and two of those W's are against Texas. The Horns became the first No. 6 seed to lose to an 11th seed in Big 12 Tourney history.

If it's any consolation, Texas is already in the Tournament; Colorado (at 14-15) is done for the season with its next loss. Look at it this way, the Horns get as many as three extra days of rest to help heal those banged-up bodies. And with an RPI rating of 34 and an AP ranking at No. 29, this ugly loss probably moves Texas from the dreaded NCAA No. 8/9 Tournament seed to a No. 10 or worse (and thus won't have to potentially face the top seed in the second round). Other than that, the positives were hard to find during Texas' one-and-done appearance in Kansas City.

Texas held a 13-12 lead before Gibson drained back-to-back treys to stake a seven point Longhorn advantage. Sydmill Harris and Kenton Paulino connected on a pair of foul shots to maintain the margin at 23-16. The Buffs cut into the Longhorn lead, 23-20, before Paulino completed a traditional three-point play with 7:39 remaining. But with Buckman on the bench, Colorado launched a 12-2 run claim its first lead at 32-28.

Gibson came up with a baseline steal leading to Kenny Taylor's three ball from the left wing as Texas trailed, 32-31. Mike Williams' adventure in free throw shooting regained the Texas lead before Taylor knocked down his second trey of the evening. Dion Dowell hit the back end of a one-and-one as Texas took a 37-36 lead into the locker room.

Taylor's third trey of the evening spotted Texas a 42-38 margin. Buckman picked up his fourth personal with 14:25 remaining and Williams was whistled for his fourth just one minute later. Richard Roby's trey knotted the score at 49. Chris Copeland's bankshot gave the Buffs their second lead of the night. Julius followed his foul shots with a slam dunk to give CU a 55-49 advantage. Buckman checked back in with little more than 10 minutes remaining.

Roby and Hall nailed back-to-back treys to give the upstart Buffs a 61-50 lead. After Jason Klotz hit a pair of FTs, Gibson converted his midcourt steal into a slam as the Horns cut into the deficit, 61-54. Taylor's shot from outside the arc made it a 63-57 ballgame and Paulino's three-ball brought the Horns within five. But Julius Ashby's three-point rebuilt the CU lead to 71-60. Williams hit a pair of foul shots to make it a 75-65 CU lead with 3:58 remaining.

Taylor's baseline steal led to a coast-to-coast lay-up but 77-69 was as close as the Horns got from there on out.

Freshman Roby led Colorado with 17 points and 10 boards, one of four Buffaloes in double figures.

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