It’s been a lousy year for Texas by Rick Barnes’ standards, but at least the Longhorns didn’t forget how to win in the Big 12 Tournament.
Texas ran its streak with at least one postseason victory to eight years with a 70-57 victory over TCU on Wednesday night in the Sprint Center.
The reward for the seventh-seeded Longhorns is a date Thursday against second-seeded Kansas State at 6 p.m.
“I’m not sure they’re not one of the best teams in the country,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats scored two impressive victories over Texas this season, by 26 in Manhattan and 12 in Austin and have won five straight in the series.
Wednesday, the Longhorns, 16-16, needed about 30 minutes to pull away.
TCU led 39-38 when Julien Lewis buried a three-pointer and put the Longhorns ahead. A few minutes, Lewis again scored from deep and extended the lead to 54-46 with 8:45 remaining.
Texas entered the game ranked ninth in the Big 12 in three-point shooting, and Lewis was hitting only 32.6 percent. But he finished the game four of seven from beyond the arc.
Lewis personally stopped a Horned Frogs rally in the first half.
The Longhorns had gone 8:12 without a field goal, but didn’t lose the lead in the stretch. That happened when TCU’s Nate Butler Lind hit a three for a 22-21 lead.
Lewis, who matched a career best with 19 points, answered by swishing three pointers on successive possessions.
Lewis, a sophomore guard, had been a starter. But Barnes shuffled his lineup when Myck Kabongo returned from a 23-game NCAA suspension last month. Lewis and Javan Felix went to the bench, with Kabongo and Demarcus Holland getting the start. It’s worked. Texas is 6-3 in those games.
“I don’t think we have a bench,” Barnes said. “We’ve started 11 guys this year.”
TCU finished its first season in the Big 12 and under coach Trent Johnson at 11-21. The Horned Frogs won only two of 18 league games but they were impressive, over co-league champion Kansas and likely NCAA Tournament team Oklahoma.