the score

Horns Men's Basketball Team Out Snipe Hunting

Signature win alludes them

By Russ Espinoza, 3:58PM, Fri. Feb. 24, 2012

Bobby Hill
Bobby Hill

On an early episode of King of The Hill titled “The Order of the Straight Arrow,” Hank and the fellas shepherd Bobby’s scout troop on a “rite of passage” excursion into the great outdoors. But the trip is not a good-natured one: as the men collude to exploit the children’s naivety and make fools of them via a gauntlet of phony Native American rituals.

Then came the snipe hunt – aka a “wild-goose chase,” a fool’s errand; or, a practical joke that backfired and made Bobby temporarily lose faith in his father’s goodness.

At this dimming stage of the Longhorn’s regular season, it’s a near-lock that their epitaph will read “Perished From Snipe Hunt” when the bell tolls. Of course, this alludes to UT’s absence of that dastardly “signature win.”

Austin American-Statesman columnist Cedric Golden wrote, “If the invitations went out today, Texas (17-11, 7-8 Big 12) would miss the dance, and rightly so,” in the fallout from UT’s 77-72 home loss against No.13 Baylor on Monday night. Texas squandered a 36-26 halftime advantage and a 12-point early second half lead. Then, as a fitting rendition of a season’s worth of 11th-hour foibles, Texas’ possession to tie with 12 seconds left produced a turnover, not a shot.

“I’ve never seen a team that will practice as hard as they practice and do some really good things, but come out in the game and just not do it,” Head Coach Rick Barnes told the Austin American-Statesman after the game.

Though the Longhorns can still potentially “play their way in” and extend their streak of 13 consecutive tournament appearances by going a minimum 2-1 in their final three games, the team’s latest missed opportunity against another A-list opponent at the Erwin Center presages a midnight visit from the dark lord Doomhauer.

Yo, I tell you what man: somewhere in them dang ol’ clouds, H.C. Gilstrap is weepin’ inside the warm cove of Thurman Hull’s dang ol’ consolin’ arms, man.

Mapping out the particulars of the selection committee’s file on Texas isn’t an encouraging project. The page looks ugly, a pubescent Joseph Gribble ugly: zero signature wins; an 0-7 record versus ranked opponents; a 3-9 record against the RPI top 100; 1-7 against the Big 12’s best; and a 1-8 mark in games won by six points or less.

Even so, the Longhorns still remain cheap bubbly, but more than a little flat. As does Northwestern, Purdue, UConn, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Arizona, Central Florida, West Virginia, NC State, Southern Florida, Miami, and UMass.

Bleacher Report columnist Andrew Silvershein’s Feb. 23 NCAA Tournament field includes those first six, plus Texas. As he sees it, the Longhorns make the grade from having beaten No. 22 Temple in Austin on Dec. 17 (though the Owls were unranked at the time), and from simply getting fat on weaker teams – known as “getting your papers in order.”

He may include the Longhorns on the team’s Gribble-thin merits, but Hank Hill, Cedric Golden, and I rebuttal a few choice words in return: “That boy ain’t right.”

Hope persists, though. But certainly not at Kansas for the regular-season finale on March 3 – despite Texas having played them tooth-and-nail at the Erwin Center on Jan. 21 (a three-point loss). Like most teams in college basketball, though, Texas’ potency shines best at home, and drains in a steady hemorrhage on the road.

Assuming they “take care of business” on Saturday at Texas Tech, then again for their home finale against Oklahoma, the Longhorns' final, last-ditch opportunity to net that damnable signature win could – barring a lethal first-round implosion – take place at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City; where they’re likely to face either Kansas, Missouri, or Baylor on a neutral court in the second round.

And for the umpteenth time: close won’t cut it. Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross didn’t abide coffee for close-ers. Closers got the perks. Just one close-out: of Jayhawks, Tigers, or Bears; that’s all it takes, Slick Rick.

Otherwise it’s all just been one giant snipe hunt.


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