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Mar 19, 6:39 PM EDT

Longhorns end frustrating season with 56-48 loss to Butler


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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Texas convinced itself it had finally turned the corner, confident that three months of inconsistent play had finally developed into something more cohesive as the Longhorns entered the NCAA Tournament.

Nope.

Sluggish at the start and sloppy at the finish, Texas saw another maddeningly erratic season end with an all too familiar sight: a slow trudge to the locker room after another first-weekend flameout.

Jonathan Holmes scored 15 points and Isaiah Taylor added 14 but the 11th-seeded Longhorns mustered little flow in a 56-48 loss to sixth-seeded Butler on Thursday. Texas (20-14) failed to win more than one game in the tournament for the seventh straight spring, a drought that is threatening to eat away at support for coach Rick Barnes.

"Whether you get knocked out right now or you get knocked out in a week, two weeks, there's always an empty feeling," Barnes said.

One that's becoming an annual rite of spring in Austin. The Longhorns were ranked as high as No. 6 in the AP Top 25 in December before another freefall through the Big 12. Given a chance to change the narrative against the resurgent Bulldogs, Texas instead was undone by an avalanche of missed shots and mistakes.

It was a common theme for perhaps the country's most competitive conference during the regular season. Baylor and Iowa State, both No. 3 seeds, were stunned earlier in the afternoon.

"This tournament's not given to anybody," Barnes said. "All you have to do is look around today. I know we've got teams in our league that struggled today."

Few struggled mightier than the Longhorns, who have one of the nation's most imposing front lines but could not use it to their advantage. Texas outrebounded Butler 41-28 and blocked five shots but turned it over 15 times and led for less than 6 minutes.

A pullup jumper by Taylor drew Texas within 44-43 with 2:42 to play but the Longhorns never got closer. Kellen Dunham knocked down a free throw and then hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 48-43. Dunham shook his right index finger as he trotted down the court in celebration.

Taylor bricked a shot in the lane and Kameron Woods made two free throws to stretch Butler's lead to 50-43 and the Longhorns failed to get within a possession the rest of the way.

Dunham led Butler (23-10) with 20 points and the Bulldogs moved on to face third-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday while the Longhorns begin another long offseason wondering how things went wrong.

Texas needed a late mild stretch - winning three of its last four - just to make the 68-team NCAA field in spite of an 8-10 record in the Big 12. The Longhorns were convinced their best basketball was ahead of them. It never showed against the Bulldogs.

Butler led by as many as 11 points in the first half before Texas ground the game to a halt. The Bulldogs went without a field goal for more than 10 minutes, but Texas could do little more than play ping pong off the backboard and miss shot after shot.

Dunham hit a 19-footer to tie the game at 30 with and reserve forward Kelan Martin threaded to the basket for a layup and later converted a traditional three-point play to give Butler a 39-30 lead with 10:35 to play.

Texas scraped back behind Taylor but could never completely close the gap, leaving Barnes with an uncertain offseason after another talented group played less than the sum of its parts.

TAYLOR TIME

Texas' season perhaps truly turned when Taylor hurt his wrist in November. The sophomore point guard endured an up and down year after returning. He turned it over five times against the Bulldogs, including a late giveaway with 2:14 to go when the Longhorns had the ball and a chance to go in front.

" Isaiah, the games he missed early in the year I think really hurt him, because that's where we'd like to see him be further along in terms of time management, game management, all that," Barnes said. "But it is what it is. We are who we are right now."

TIP-INS

Texas: The Longhorns led the nation in blocks and finished with five to give them 265 on the season. ... Freshman Myles Turner was limited to two points and 10 rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes.

Butler: Forward Roosevelt Jones had six points and four assists in 29 minutes. He left with a lower leg injury early in the second half but returned to hit a banking shot in traffic that gave the Bulldogs a 44-37 lead. ... Butler shot just 33 percent (16 of 48) but outscored Texas 20-8 at the free throw line.

UP NEXT:

Texas: season over.

Butler: vs. Notre Dame on Saturday.

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