The Texas Longhorns prevailed in a back and forth defensive struggle over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 62-58. Jarrett Allen led all scorers with 19 points, while Eric Davis chipped in 15 for Texas, along with five key points down the stretch. Keenan Evans, Anthony Livingston, and Niem Stevenson all scored in double figures for Tech.
The Longhorns found themselves trailing the game late by a single point, after a scoring spurt by Tech put Chris Beard’s squad in front of Texas. But Eric Davis wouldn’t let this one point lead hold. The sophomore guard took the ball on the wing, dribbled off of a ball screen, and knifed his way to the basket, converting a funky layup that put the Longhorns ahead 58-57.
On the ensuing possession, Livingston would grab an offensive rebound, draw a foul, and make one of the two free throws, setting up a tie game with 51 seconds remaining.
Eric Davis had the final answer. He put Texas ahead for good when Kerwin Roach found him wide open in the corner against Tech’s zone defense. Davis buried the shot, putting Texas up 61-58. A Longhorn stop and an Andrew Jones free throw would leave the score 62-58 when time expired.
After playing very well in recent weeks, Andrew Jones found himself in the starting lineup for first time since Texas’ loss to TCU. It was perhaps in an effort to spark the Texas offense early.
It did not spark the Texas offense early. Through most of the half, both teams struggled to score. Both teams shot 11-30 from the floor in the first twenty minutes of the game. Through the early portion of the game Jarrett Allen provided most of the offense for the Longhorns, and he finished the half leading all scorers with 10 points, on 4-6 shooting from the floor.
There were short segments of offense in the early period for both teams. The Red Raiders briefly emerged from their slump with a short run late in the second half, at one point building a 22-14 lead. But the Longhorns responded by switching to full-court pressure, which seemed to once again knock Chris Beard’s team out of their rhythm.
The Longhorns took their turn to show some offensive success at the end of the first half. Eric Davis finally broke Texas’ three-point drought with two minutes remaining. Shaka Smart’s team quickly found and made two more looks from long range, as Jacob Young knocked one in with a little more than one minute left in the half, and then Kerwin Roach found Andrew Jones wide open in the corner on Texas’ final possession of the period. Texas took a 28-26 lead into halftime.
Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen came out of the locker room firing. The Longhorns were making a decided effort to put the ball in to Allen early while Jones was making plays in the high ball screen game. Jones found a rolling Shaq Cleare on two consecutive plays, leading to a dunk and a layup for the Longhorn senior center. Jones would finish the game leading all participants with seven assists to go along with 11 points.
During this early spurt of second-half productivity, Andrew Jones banked in a three-pointer in transition. As we always like to say here at Burnt Orange Nation — just hit the square. It works.
The Texas Longhorns looked in control. After Eric Davis hit a three and Jacob Young jumped in a passing lane to take the ball end-to-end for a three point play with 12 minutes remaining, Texas was up 47-37.
But the Red Raiders wouldn’t go away. On a mostly quiet night (although he did grab 13 rebounds), Tech forward Zach Smith came off of a curl for a layup, starting up another Texas Tech run. Evans added a tough three with a hand in his face, and Stevenson followed with a drive to the rim to set the score at 47-44.
A Jarrett Allen bucket on an offensive rebound would briefly interrupt the Tech run. But a Smith free throw, a three by Livingston, two free throws by Stevenson, and a Stevenson three pointer would give Tech a 53-50 lead with 6:14 seconds remaining.
“Oh no,” thought Longhorn fans. “Not again.” After playing yet another close game, Texas looked ready to let another one slip away.
But it wouldn’t slip away. Both teams traded several scoring possessions before Jarrett Allen made a hard basket cut for a layup, which set the score 57-56 Texas Tech with 2:50 remaining.
And from this point on, the Longhorn defense and Eric Davis would come through for the win.
- A reoccurring problem of the Texas Longhorns was present again in this game, but tonight it didn’t cost them the win. The Red Raiders took seven more field goal attempts and two more free throw attempts than Texas, meaning Chris Beard’s team simply had more chances to score than the Longhorns. This is a big part of why the game was so close in a contest where Tech was held to 36 percent shooting and made only 10-19 free throws. As always for Texas, the issues were turnovers (the Longhorns gave the ball away in 21 percent of their possessions) and an inability to generate many second chance shots (Texas only tracked down 25 percent of its misses). These rates are right in line with what the Longhorns have done all season, and largely account for why Texas has the least efficient offense in the Big 12.
- Shaka Smart’s team found a way to overcome its turnover and rebounding struggles by playing outstanding defense. One thing that the Longhorns have done much of the year is defend well much of the time. Tonight the Raiders only managed 0.87 points per possession. This is the tenth game of the season that the Longhorns have held an opponent to below one point per possession.
- Eric Davis’ shooting slump seems over from what I can tell. He is shooting the ball confidently again, and is currently shooting 16-43 (37 percent) from three-point range in Big 12 games.
- Jarrett Allen unleashed a quasi-dream shake move in the first half, where he faked out two defenders before pivoting away from them for a wide open jump hook. When Allen doesn’t turn the ball over, there is just no one in college basketball who can guard him. There aren’t many guys that big that move like that. Goodness.
- We are seeing a gradual transition from Kerwin Roach primarily playing on the ball in the Texas offense to Andrew Jones running the point for Shaka Smart. Tonight might be the inflection point for this change, as Jones seemed to be doing more of the ball handling and initiation of the offense at the top of the key than Roach did for what may be the first time this season. We will see if this trend continues.
On Saturday, Texas heads on the road for a rematch with TCU.