AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s crunch time for the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team.
Head coach Rodney Terry said February was all about separating from the rest of the Big 12 Conference. His Longhorns did that, firmly establishing themselves as one of the top Big 12 teams with an 11-5 conference record.
But now, Texas is set to embark on the month that means the most in the world of college basketball. The Longhorns have two regular season games left — they’ll play TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth before hosting Kansas on Saturday.
After that, the Big 12 tournament and March Madness and their win-or-go-home formats await.
“March is about finishing,” Terry said. “You have to finish halves. You have to finish your cuts. You have to finish possessions. The team that embraces that, they have a chance to advance deep into March.”
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Advancing deep into March is something Texas hasn’t been able to do in over a decade. Texas has won just two tournament games since 2014 and hasn’t been to the Sweet Sixteen since 2008.
Terry was an assistant coach to Rick Barnes on the 2008 team that went all the way to the Elite Eight and also an assistant for the 2003 Final Four team.
With that experience in his back pocket, Terry said he has tried to impart the keys to advancing deep into the tournament to his players during their recent games and practices.
“We’ve tried to play March basketball the past three weeks,” Terry said. “Every possession matters [and] you have to play with urgency on both ends of the floor. I’ve said to our guys today that we’re at a point now where we’re not going to have a whole lot of redos. “
Texas finished February with an up-and-down week where they dominated Iowa State 72-54 before falling to Baylor 81-72 in Waco.
The Longhorns dropped one spot to number nine in the AP poll and are primed for two more ranked matchups this week with TCU slotting in at No. 22 and Kansas maintaining its perch as the top Big 12 team with its No. 3 ranking.
It’s the beginning of a stretch run set to define how this year’s Longhorns team will be remembered for years to come.
“You have 40 minutes right in front of you,” Terry said. “And you have to take care of [what’s] in front of you to continue to play.”