Moments after a discouraging 77-71 home loss to UCF on Wednesday night, Texas men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry took offense at how some of the Knights were celebrating.
A handful of UCF players mocked Texas’ iconic Hook ‘Em Horns hand sign by raising their arms and displaying the infamous Horns Down gesture.
While going through the postgame handshake line, Terry repeatedly shouted “that’s classless” at the UCF players and told them, “Don’t do that s***.” Terry was still fuming 30 minutes later when he addressed the incident during his postgame news conference.
“When you do those kinds of things, it looks very classless and it also looks like you were just hoping to win,” Terry said. “We never go into games trying to hope to win. We go into games expecting to win. So we don’t act like that. We expect to win. We don’t jump up and down and act like we won the national championship. We sure don’t step on anyone’s home court and act crazy and try to show them up in any way. We don’t do that.
“You guys won. Hey, we shake your hand and tip our hat to you, but we’re not going to let you act that way in our building. You’re not going to put your horns down and do all that nonsense.”
UCF coach Johnny Dawkins told reporters after the game that Terry is “a great man” and that he has “a lot of respect” for the Texas program. Dawkins said he would review the footage and promised, “If there’s any action that needs to be taken on my end from our staff, I will do that.”
When Dawkins does watch video of the handshake line incident, he might be surprised how tame his players’ celebration was. They don’t seem to be flashing the Horns Down in the faces of Texas players. This wasn't the atrocity that Terry made it out to be.
The bigger concern for Terry should be his own team’s inability to protect a 15-point second-half lead. The Longhorns made only four baskets over the game’s final 12 minutes, following up a dreadful road loss at outmanned West Virginia with another costly setback against an unheralded UCF team in the midst of its debut Big 12 season.
Losing winnable games is especially damaging in this year’s Big 12 because there aren’t many gimmes available. Only West Virginia, Oklahoma State and UCF are lower than 54th in the nation, per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
Now 12-5 overall but 1-3 in the Big 12, Texas is poised to begin a gauntlet of games against rugged competition. Awaiting Texas the next three weeks: Baylor, at Oklahoma, at BYU, Houston, at TCU, Iowa State. And even if the Longhorns somehow survive that, road games at Houston, Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor still remain before postseason play begins.
KenPom projects Texas to finish 17-14 overall and 6-12 in league play.
That probably wouldn’t secure the Longhorns an NCAA tournament bid.
The good news for Terry is that the cure for both his problems is the same. To return to the NCAA tournament and stop opponents from celebrating at their expense, the Longhorns need to start piling up some more wins.