AUSTIN, Texas — With Matthew McConaughey watching from the bench in a burnt orange suit, a massive three-point by Texas Longhorns sophomore guard Jase Febres just feet away from the school’s Minister of Culture and two free throws from sophomore guard Matt Coleman and freshman forward Jaxson Hayes were enough for the Horns to hold off the No. 20 Oklahoma Sooners at the Erwin Center on Saturday.
The basket by Febres with 32 seconds remaining broke an 0-for-5 start from beyond the arc and Oklahoma able to make three three-point attempts in the closing second as Texas broke a three-game losing streak in conference play while adding another win against a ranked opponent to the resume.
Senior guard Kerwin Roach II led the Horns with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting with three makes from three-point range. Three players — Coleman, Hayes, and senior forward Dylan Osetkowski — all added 15 points. Osetkowski added 11 tough rebounds to aid Texas on the glass, including three of the 10 offensive rebounds for the Longhorns, while Hayes set a career high with five blocks, including the final shot by Oklahoma.
Texas also hit 16-of-20 free throws in the second half to provide a major boost for the Horns. Coleman hit 4-of-5 attempts and Hayes hit 7-of-8 attempts. The freshman forward is now shooting 81.8 percent from the charity stripe in Big 12 play. Since Hayes made all four of his attempts from the field, that late free throw was the only shot he missed all night.
Head coach Shaka Smart has now won all four games against Oklahoma in the Erwin Center and the Longhorns have won 19 of the last 28 meetings with the Sooners overall.
Outside of Hayes, the Longhorns got off to a slow start offensively — the rising freshman scored two buckets early, but the rest of the team started 0-for-6 shooting until Roach hit a three with 13:42 remaining. The bucket ended a stretch of nearly four minutes without a basket for Texas against the stingy Oklahoma defense, which ranked No. 9 nationally in adjusted efficiency entering the game.
As usual offensively, the problem wasn’t producing good looks. The problem was not making open looks from the beyond the arc and, on this evening, scoring around the basket. The Horns also had two lob attempts to Hayes that didn’t connect.
“We got good shots almost the whole game,” Smart said.
The Sooners struggled from the field early, too, hitting on only 3-of-10 attempts by the under-12 timeout with 11:30 remaining. By the time that Roach hit a short jumper in the paint and Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger called a timeout, the Sooners were nursing a scoring drought of over five minutes after missing six shots in a row and 10 of their last 11. When Bradey Manek finally hit a jump shot with 8:05 remaining, it broke an 11-0 scoring run for Texas.
Roach continued to make a difference for Texas, scoring 13 of the first 17 points for Texas — when senior forward Dylan Osetkowski finished a layup with 4:38 remaining, he became the first Longhorns player to score other than Roach and Hayes. The basket sparked a personal run of eight straight points for Osetkowski, which also included a finish through a foul and two free throws after a steal.
The Longhorns opened up a 10-point lead on two occasions late in the half, but a five-point swing in the final seconds, including a desperation three by Christian James on a broken possession for the Sooners cut the lead in half. Even with that basket, Oklahoma only shot 33.3 percent in the first 20 minutes, over 10 percentage points below the season average for the Sooners.
Oklahoma started the second half strong as the Sooners guards took over — Christian James scored 12 points in the first 6:36 and Rashard Odomes scored seven as both players physically overpowered the smaller Longhorns guards. James hit both of his three-point attempts, as well.
Ten points by Coleman helped power the Horns, as Coleman hit a three-pointer and finished an And 1 spanning the under-16 timeout. Later in the half, Roach got hot again scoring eight points, with Hayes pitching in six on 4-of-4 shooting from the lane and a thunderous dunk on a sweet pass from Osetkowski that finally brought the Erwin Center to full throat for the first time in the rivalry game.
Two free throws from Hayes and the subsequent buckets were particularly important, as Oklahoma had opened up a five-point lead, but the 8-0 from Texas put the Horns ahead once again.
The game settled into a back-and-forth affair for a long stretch, with Oklahoma benefitting from a little bit of luck when a blocked shot by Hayes went right to Jamal Bieniemy, who promptly hit a big three-pointer with a little under four minutes remaining. Then Hayes was hit with a foul call that brought Smart out to halfcourt during the under-four timeout to argue with the official who called it.
Texas responded, as Febres broke an 0-for-7 start with a driving left-handed layup and a post up by Osetkowski before Oklahoma retook the lead with another three from Bieniemy. Officials reviewed the play after Coleman was fouled, but upheld the initial call.
Two free throws by the sophomore guard gave Texas back the lead as the clock ticked under one minute and the Horns benefitted from a careless turnover by James in a critical situation.
Coming out of a timeout, Coleman found Febres by the Texas bench for that huge three-pointer, but Bieniemy once again showed his fortitude with a three of his own that rattled around the rim as he fell to the ground in pain with a right ankle injury. The long-range bucked from Febres was his first make from beyond the arc after missing his first five attempts.
The basket left 21.5 second remaining with the Horns leading by one point, 73-72. A timeout called by Roach narrowly avoided a five-second violation on the inbounds pass, leaving suspense hanging in the air of the Erwin Center for just a little bit longer.
Texas eventually finished the game for a much-need victory before heading back on the road to face TCU in Fort Worth on Wednesday 6:00 p.m. Central on ESPNU.