The Texas Longhorns stumbled away a home game, falling 67-64 to the Kansas State Wildcats in Austin when Kerwin Roach simply stumbled, getting tangled up with Dean Wade when going for a game tying try as the final buzzer sounded. Mohamed Bamba led all scorers with 18 points, while Bruce Weber's squad had five players finish in double digits in the win as they grabbed the lead for good in the latter portion of the second half.
The Longhorns were not without their chances late in a tight and sometimes ragged game. After Eric Davis nailed a challenged three to cut K-State's lead to 66-64 with 44.7 seconds remaining, Texas needed a stop. But things got a little more complicated when a Kerwin Roach foul with 18.6 seconds remaining in the game turned off the shot clock and put Texas in fouling mode, with four fouls needed to put the Wildcats on the line.
The Longhorns were at least efficient with this particular task, after playing somewhat lackluster basketball for most of the night, needing only 2.5 seconds to slap the Wildcats four times, and send Barry Brown (an 81 percent free throw shooter) to the line for a one and one. Brown could have shut the door on Texas right then, but he gave the Longhorns another chance when he missed his first free throw and passed possession back to the Longhorns.
This would set up the Longhorns' best late chance to tie the game. Things looked promising for a moment when Matt Coleman drove the basket, but he turned the ball over with 3.3 seconds remaining trying to lob the ball to Bamba. After a Dean Wade free throw put Kansas State up by three points, the Longhorns would not get another clean chance to score.
In the very early minutes of the game the Texas Longhorns jumped out to a strong start. Electing to start the game with a lineup that featured big men Mohamed Bamba, Dylan Osetkowski, and Jericho Sims on the floor together, Texas put the ball inside with some initial success. The result was a pair of Jericho Sims dunks and an early lead. Bamba would keep the good play going on the interior with 16 first half points and seven rebounds, before his scoring chances dried up in the second half.
But Kansas State was game, and took advantage of some sloppy play by Texas — Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach each had three first half turnovers — and fought back. The Wildcats would use a balanced attack led by Dean Wade's 11 first-half points to keep the game close. The period would end with the score tied at 34 points each.
The most notable highlight of the first half was served up by the Longhorn Network crew. I am not necessarily a prude, and am certainly not here to kink shame anyone, but I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable when Lowell Galindo announced that the Longhorns had enjoyed "back-to-back bigs with really nice feet."
Texas started the second half putting the ball back inside to Sims for an early bucket, but then for the next few minutes looked flat as they let the Wildcats take a 42-38 lead into the first media time out.
The Longhorns would clean things up somewhat over the next game segment, slowing down coach Weber's team by switching into a 2-3 zone, and finding some success on offense with a low post three-point play by Osetkowski, as well as threes of the more newfangled style from both Osetkowski and Roach. But K-State would also show some success on offense, getting out in transition for a Xavier Sneed dunk. While contemplating contesting this dunk, Osetkowski made what the kids call a business decision.
The Texas Longhorns would threaten a small run midway through the half, as the Wildcats struggled to create high value shots, and Osetkowski and Matt Coleman drives led to back to back buckets. Dean Wade brought an end to this when he hit an elbow jumper to cut the Texas lead to 51-48.
The Wildcats finally grabbed the lead for good late in the game on five quick points by Cartier Diarra. He started the run with a three, and then off of a Texas turnover on the next possession scored a run out layup. Another Texas turnover would lead to a Barry Brown layup and a 59-54 lead at the game's final media timeout.
From that point on the teams would trade baskets until the Longhorns ran out of time.
Speaking of running out of time, while the season is not yet over there aren't all that many games remaining. Making matters worse, the Longhorns play four of their final seven scheduled contests on the road, with their three remaining home games coming against Baylor, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia.
Between these seven remaining games as well as the one or more games available to the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament, Shaka Smart's team likely needs to find a way to win at least four times to be in the conversation on Selection Sunday, and even four wins is unlikely to be sufficient to guarantee inclusion. At least one of these wins will have to be away from the Erwin Center.
The Longhorns' path to the tournament has not been closed, but after tonight's less than inspiring performance things got a tad more difficult.
Jeff's writing tunes provided by Huun Huur Tu.