The Texas Longhorns fell to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock on a Keenan Evans buzzer beater in overtime. Evans was spectacular, scoring 38 points on the night as Texas Tech prevailed 73-71. Kerwin Roach led the Longhorns with 20 points in the loss.
The game was a rough and sloppy — and aggressive and competitive — affair, where both teams took turns playing hero and goat. Both teams found ways to give control away to the other, and both found ways to wrestle it back.
Sometimes, basketball is some crazy and miserable nonsense. Sometimes it is a game of force and attrition. Sometimes it is just a mess. This game was all of these things.
The game started out ragged — and stayed that way — as the two teams spent the first half feeling each other out, fouling each other, and fighting hard for points in an environment where points are not so easy to arrange. Through that first period Keenan Evans scored 17 of the Red Raiders 36 points on a mix of threes, drives to the hoop, and 8-9 shooting from the free throw line.
Both teams were sufficiently stifled offensively in the early going. For the Longhorns, the wing ball screen game that is so central to the Longhorn attack struggled as Tech funneled and forced everything to the sidelines (Texas would adjust to this in the second half, slipping Osetkowski into the post instead of sending him to screen). Additionally, the Raiders collapsed defenders into the paint to make things hard on Mohamed Bamba, who ended the half with one field goal attempt, two free throws, and three points.
The physical component — this game was part basketball, part combat sport — put the Longhorns in some early foul trouble that would haunt them for the remainder of the contest. Jericho Sims picked up his second foul with around 12 minutes remaining the the half when he bit on a shot fake by Zhaire Smith, while Bamba would pick up his second about eight minutes later. Jase Febres would finish the first half with three fouls of his own.
The Red Raiders started to build a lead late in the first half as Keenan Evans took control of things for an otherwise stymied Tech offense. The first spark occurred when midway through the period he knocked down a three with Jacob Young all over him. It would be enough to get him going. He wouldn't ever stop going.
For the Longhorns, Roach kept things close through much of the first half, establishing a theme that would play out again in the overtime period. With Texas unable to make much happen against Tech's defense (and with Dylan Osetkowski struggling to convert around the hoop when the Longhorns did break through and get the ball inside), Roach was able to improvise enough to score ten first half points and keep things close while the Longhorns rode out their foul trouble in a zone defense.
A late end-to-end run with the ball by Matt Coleman resulted in two free throws with under a second remaining in the period, and would narrow the final first half advantage to 36-29 Tech.
Tech came out of the locker room strong, as Keenan Evans picked up where he left off. He drove the ball to the rim on Mo Bamba after a defensive switch, and on the following possession came down the floor and knocked down a three that gave the Red Raiders a 41-29 lead.
Texas would take a few more hits. The first big one came when Mo Bamba picked up his third personal foul and then a moment later had to leave the game with a leg injury after stumbling over Eric Davis. He would later return, but it wouldn't be the last time a Texas big man was temporarily unavailable.
As the second half settled in, foul trouble started to accumulate as Matt Coleman, Jase Febres, Jerico Sims, and Mo Bamba all found themselves hamstrung with three fouls. Meanwhile, a Red Raider run would give Coach Chris Beard's team a 51-38 lead at the U12 media timeout.
I will be honest with you. While there was still quite a bit of time remaining in the game, things at this point were looking pretty grim for the Longhorns. I was starting to put together my recap. But Texas rallied back, turning a lot of what I wrote into useless trash (as opposed to the useful trash you are currently reading).
Bamba reentered the game and would start doing things. One of those things was a three-pointer that he dropped in (setting the score 44-52) that really sparked a Texas comeback. This was quickly followed up with a few solid defensive possessions, a few Dylan Osetkowski free throws, and an Eric Davis three that cut the Tech lead to 55-50 with under eight minutes remaining. As Davis' three went through the hoop Osetkowski turned an ankle, and would have to go to the locker room. He would eventually return.
Just after the media timeout, Eric Davis drained another three — this one a difficult step-back shot — to set the score at 53-55. Soon thereafter Matt Coleman would tie the game at 55 with a jump shot.
This had been a hell of a comeback. But Texas still had more in them. A Roach steal created a Jase Febres dunk that gave Texas a 59-57 lead. Unfortunately, just moments later Febres fouled out with just under four minutes in the game.
Texas built on this lead when Eric Davis came up with another steal that led to a Roach runout and Eurostep to put the Longhorns up 61-57. At this point the Longhorns appeared to be rolling. I deleted a bunch of crap I had written, and started to change directions.
The Longhorns would get one more big stop, and then with 2:33 remaining in the game Matt Coleman faked Evans off his feet and drew a foul to earn three free throws.
This was the critical moment when the game turned yet again.
Matt Coleman missed all three free throws, and then promptly fouled out of the game. It was just in time to see Dylan Osetkowski check back into the game, apparently good enough to go after spending a few minutes in the locker room.
After a pair of Evans free throws 2:23 remaining, and a Roach drive to the basket resulting in a Bamba dunk, Tech would reassert control. The biggest strike again came with Evans at the free-throw line, where after drawing a foul from three-point range, he would set the score 64-63 with 49 seconds remaining.
Texas' final possession of the game led to a good chance for Osetkowski inside, but he couldn't convert on a hook shot. It was the story of his night, as the Texas junior went 2-12 from the floor, with many misses coming at point-blank range.
On Texas Tech's final possession of the game, Keenan Evans drove the basket and was fouled by Bamba. It was Bamba's fifth; he joined fellow freshmen Jase Febres and Matt Coleman fouled out on the bench.
Down by one, with 3.4 seconds remaining, Texas Tech seemed to be in pretty good shape. Keenan Evans, an 83-percent free throw shooter on the season, could win the game with two makes. But after sinking his first free throw, Evans missed the second, sending the game to overtime. That miss was really the only thing he failed at all night.
The overtime period turned into something of an duel between Keenan Evans and Kerwin Roach. Evans started off the period with four quick points to put Tech up by four. After a Roach free throw and a Jarrett Culver, dunk the Raiders found themselves clinging to a five point lead with a little more than two minutes left. Again, things looked grim for Texas, and Shaka Smart called his remaining time out to settle his team down and to change up his lineup and defense.
Out of the timeout, Kerwin Roach hit a three to cut the Raider lead to 70-68. The Raiders would grow that lead by one on the following possession. Roach and Evans would both follow this with missed shots and empty trips.
Off of the Evans miss, Kerwin Roach pushed the ball up in transition and Zhaire Smith blocked his layup from behind. Somehow Dylan Osetkowski came up with the ball in the scramble after the block. Osetkowski got the ball back out to Roach, who banked in a three to tie the game at 71 with 13 seconds remaining.
The final 13 seconds would be all the time that Evans needed. The Tech senior calmly dribbled the ball up the floor, penetrated in to about 16 feet from the basket, and dropped in a jumper as time expired. Game over.
Jeff's writing tunes provided by Wayan Loceng.