With 9:46 to play in the game and Mercer on an 11-1 run that put Texas down 62-53, the Longhorns looked like they were done. Defensive miscues freed up Mercer's shooters for open jumpers, while the offense stagnated with turnovers and forced shots.
A year ago, that would have been the end of it. Tonight, however, was a different story.
Battling a very solid Mercer squad loaded with senior returnees from a team that won the Atlantic Sun a year ago, it was the young Longhorns who gathered their composure, buckled down on defense, and found ways to score down the stretch. Jonathan Holmes hit a three on a beautiful pick-n-pop. Isaiah Taylor got himself to the free throw line. Connor Lammert followed up a miss with a tip-in -- on two possessions in a row. Even Demarcus Holland hit a 15-footer, and then sealed the game with an emphatic dunk in the game's final seconds.
In a tense, quality basketball game that featured 3 ties and 5 lead changes in the second half, both teams made a good run at picking up the win, but Texas emerged on top. It wasn't a road win over #1 UCLA or anything, but for this team -- for as young as they are, and considering how last year's team couldn't close out games -- this was a great win. Hell, even Rick Barnes said so. And... smiled? Yep. Barnes allowed himself a smile in his post-game interview. That says it all.
I'll have comprehensive individual notes in a separate post, but this is your celebration thread. Game balls to my boy Isaiah Taylor and his team-high 17 points (much, much more on him soon -- I told y'all he's the truth) and Cam Ridley (8 points, 11 boards, 5 blocks), who went full Beast Mode down the stretch to key the Texas win. It was easily the best game of Ridley's Longhorn career, and if the play we got tonight from Taylor and Ridley are signs of things to come, this group is gonna be alright.
It wouldn't have been a devastating loss had this one gone the other way, but damn did it feel good to walk out of the Erwin Center with that win. Gutty comeback for a great win.