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UNI's prayer answered as Shaka Smart's first Texas NCAA Tournament victory slips away

Well, that wasn't an ideal finish to Texas' season.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say? This is March and UNI required a Paul Jesperson miracle heave from halfcourt to send the Longhorns back to Austin until next season.

But this is far from the Texas Longhorns tourney teams of late. Despite the 16-point first half deficit, the team kept fighting, and even looked to be in control following a 19-5 run to open the first half. But games are 40 minutes, and sometimes it requires the moment of a player's basketball career to survive and advance. That was the case tonight for Jesperson and UNI.

In what may have been his last game as a Longhorn, Isaiah Taylor did all he could to keep Texas dancing. The first-half deficit would have been a insurmountable one without Taylor's 16 points, which included hitting a career-high 3-3 from deep. By the conclusion, headlined by what could have been an overtime-forcing floater with 2.7 seconds, Taylor finished with a team and game-high 22 points and six assists. Taylor's counterpart, star point guard Wes Washpun, led UNI with 17 points. But obviously, the player of the game was UNI's Jesperson who added 14 points behind four three pointers, including the game winner.

Ultimately, the difference was everybody showed up to play at a high level for UNI, which wasn't the case for Texas. Seven of the nine Panthers that saw action reached double figures in the scoring column, as opposed to only Taylor, Eric Davis Jr. (13) and Javan Felix (12) reaching such heights for the Horns. This, in large, was due to UNI's tremendous success from the charity stripe, connecting on 25-32 looks -- seven more makes than Texas attempted (18).

Ultimately, it took Shaka Smart and Texas some time to make the adjustments that allowed Texas to claw back into the game and tie things at 72 with seconds left. Prince Ibeh sat for most of the first half, as did Cameron Ridley and Shaquille Cleare. Texas tried to match UNI's small lineups, and simply didn't have the quickness to match up; getting abused off of screens. Clearly, things changed dramatically in the second half, but again, there's not much any adjustment and second-half rally can do for halfcourt heaves at the buzzer.

The Good

  • Texas never quit fighting, and could have potentially won if it weren't for March's madness.
  • Despite the loss, this doesn't look like recent Texas teams in the tourney.
  • Yet again, Texas saw signs of a star in the making with Davis hitting numerous clutch shots in arguably the biggest game of his life.
  • Isaiah Taylor may have certainly improved his draft stock tonight, but he's far from a lock to hear his name called. We may see a potential National Player of the Year candidate back in burnt orange next season.
  • The next time the Longhorns play, they'll have at least two more four-star recruits on campus (C James Banks, PG Jacob Young), as well a five-star McDonald's All-American (Andrew Jones). Five-star PF Jarrett Allen may be added to this list, as well.

The Bad

  • Tonight's loss was the last time we'll ever see Cameron Ridley, Javan Felix, Connor Lammert, Prince Ibeh, and Demarcus Holland in a Longhorns jersey. Huge thanks for all their contributions over four years.
  • Texas doesn't get to avenge it's early season loss and send the Aggies home until 2016-17.
  • Paul Jesperson hit a shot that falls maybe once in 25 tries.