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The Big 12's Worst Losses: Texas

TCU didn't foul the Longhorns and cut off their three-point shooting to win its first game against Texas since 1995.

Is it too late to get James' eligibility back?
Is it too late to get James' eligibility back?
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12/SEC Challenge will force Vanderbilt to hit the road to face off with a powerful opponent - but it will also give the Commodores a much-needed opportunity to notch a quality win.

Vandy has struggled against quality opponents this season after going 1-6 against RPI Top 50 foes. On Saturday, they'll face a Texas team currently ranked 21st in the CBS RPI. Beating the Longhorns will give the team a talking point for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to ponder. A loss in Austin will be another wasted shot to reconcile this team's talent level with their win-loss record.

The Commodores will bring two potential NBA Draft lottery picks to Texas, but big performances from Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV might not mean a thing if the team can't keep their turnovers down and their rebounding up. Vandy's struggles to prevent second chance points have been its Achilles' heel in 2015-16, and an opportunistic Longhorn team won't waste extra possessions as they roll towards a postseason berth.

So how does Vanderbilt win on Saturday? Here's how a sub-.500 TCU team did it three weeks ago.

Texas (13-7, 5-3 Big 12, ranked No. 36 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings)

Worst Loss: at TCU (9-11. 1-7 Big 12, No. 154 KenPomNo. 171 CBS RPI), 57-58

Other Losses: vs. Washington, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Michigan, vs. Connecticut, vs. Texas Tech, vs. Kansas

TCU beat Texas for the first time since 1995 when they shocked the Longhorns in Fort Worth early in the Big 12 schedule. UT led with under two minutes to play, but a 90 second scoring drought couldn't stop the Horned Frogs' upset bid. TCU missed four straight free throws down the stretch, but Texas did them one better by missing four straight shots from the field to drop to 9-6 on the season. Like Vandy, they've gone 4-1 over their last four games.

Point of emphasisThree-point defense. Shaka Smart has given the Longhorns the green light to shoot - they've taken more three-pointers than the Commodores so far this season. However, unlike Vanderbilt, they've only got one player who shoots better than 35 percent from long range. TCU held Texas to 3-21 shooting and held the Longhorns starters to just an 8.3 percent success rate from behind the arc.

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit UT's offensive rebounds. Texas missed 39 shots against TCU, including 18 three-pointers that created long caroms and second chance opportunities. However, it only pulled down seven offensive rebounds, or 18 percent of its potential possessions. Teams that have beaten Vanderbilt in 2015-16 have typically pulled down 30-40 percent of their misses. Holding UT to 20 percent or less would be a major advantage for the visitors.
  • Let Isaiah Taylor do his thing. Taylor is a great scorer out of the backcourt, but his ability to fill up the bucket doesn't seem to dictate whether or not the Longhorns win or lose. Look at these stat lines:
    Opponent FGM FGA Points Win/Loss?
    Washington 7 16 27 Loss
    Texas A&M-CC 1 7 6 Win
    UConn 8 16 19 Loss
    Texas Tech 11 22 35 Loss
    West Virginia 0 8 4 Win
    TCU 2 8 6 Win
    Granted, those are some selective stats, and Taylor has had some great performances in wins - but his performance alone won't decide Saturday's game.
  • Hands straight up. Texas has averaged 25 free throws per game in 2015-16...outside of their upset loss to the Horned Frogs. The Longhorns only got to the line 11 times against TCU. Limiting fouls won't just prevent easy points - it would also keep Damian Jones and Luke Kornet in the middle of the floor to deter Isaiah Taylor's drives.