Just when Texas seems to need it most, the Big 12 schedule serves up the only teams struggling as bad — or worse — than the Longhorns are.
No matter. At this stage of a desperate season, every win feels good just because it's not another loss.
Ioannis Papapetrou scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Texas over TCU 60-43 Saturday night, as the Longhorns earned just their second Big 12 win of the season against the last-place team in the league.
"They were more engaged tonight than ever," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "We had more guys talking and helping each other."
Texas (10-11, 2-6) controlled the game throughout with suffocating defense that held TCU (9-12, 0-8) to 33 percent shooting. Sheldon McClellan added 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting for Texas.
Papapetrou, a freshman from Greece, scored Texas's first two baskets of the second half in a 7-0 run that pushed the Longhorns to a 19-point lead.
Adrick McKinney had 13 points and eight rebounds for TCU, which lost its eighth in a row in its first season in the Big 12.
Texas has made the NCAA tournament each of the last 14 seasons under Barnes, and Papapetrou said the Longhorns are fighting hard to turn the season around over the final month.
"It's about pride. We know we are Texas, what the program is about, the tradition," Papapetrou said.
Texas played its third straight game without leading rebounder Jonathan Holmes, who is out indefinitely with a broken right hand. The Longhorns are still without starting point guard Myck Kabongo, who has been out all season and cannot return until Feb. 13 due to an NCAA suspension.
"We haven't had our whole team. Hopefully, that's going to happen soon," Barnes said.
Texas, which followed its first Big 12 win a week ago with a blowout road loss at Kansas State, had the Horned Frogs under control by halftime with a defense that refused to give TCU easy looks at the basket.
Cameron Ridley had three blocks in the first 12 minutes and Texas forced eight turnovers in the first half. The last one came in the final seconds of the half, when TCU was playing for the final shot. Kyan Anderson lost the ball to McClellan, and Julien Lewis finished the fast break with a putback layup for a 32-20 Texas lead.
The Longhorns shot 52 percent for the game and blew it open in the opening minutes of the second half. Papapetrou made a short jumper and followed it with a reverse layup before Lewis pulled up on a fast break for a long 3-pointer that put Texas up 39-20.
The Horned Frogs hung around long enough to get within 48-39 when Garlon Green made a 3-pointer from the right wing with just under 7 minutes to play. But McClellan's long jumper put Texas up 52-41, and TCU never threatened the lead down the stretch.
For TCU, it was another lost chance in a season that gets more dismal every week.
"We're going to fight, keep playing hard. We're not a great shooting team, there's no secret about that," TCUcoach Trent Johnson said. "Still, some of those kids have to step up."