After three wins in three days — including a last-second victory over the No. 14 North Carolina Tar Heels to win the Camping World Maui/Asheville Invitational — the No. 17 Texas Longhorns fell just short to the No. 12 Villanova Wildcats on Sunday at the Erwin Center.
Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey each scored 17 points to keep Texas alive but ultimately fell a few possessions short, losing to the Wildcats 68-64.
“[Villanova] made big plays when they had too and that’s what good teams do,” Shaka Smart said after the Longhorns loss. “They did not make many mistakes today and they made us pay for ours”
Although ranked 12th according to the AP Poll, Kenpom ranks Jay Wright’s Wildcats as the 4th best team in the country and appears to be more accurate after today. Texas had no answer for sophomore’s Justin Moore and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl - each scoring 19 points.
After a quiet first half, Ramey came life in the second, scoring eight straight points including a game-tying three with 2:33 remaining but it was the next three plays that cost Texas the game.
Tied at 57, Villanova’s Cole Swider got Ramey in the air on a pump-fake and drained a triple on a designed ATO set play. Coleman followed that with an immediate turnover, telegraphing a pass to Brock Cunningham that turned into an easy transition dunk for the Wildcats. 62-57. Ball. Game.
“We know we could be better with the smaller details down the stretch,” Coleman said after the game. “Some of the decisions we made on both ends that if we do it again we don’t make.”
Longhorns were able to answer Nova’s points, but could not get a needed stop on defense and were forced to foul but were iced by Collin Gillespie’s perfect shooting from the stripe.
“That wasn’t our best defensive effort and we still held them to 60,” Ramey said. “There’s a lot of things we can better at, we made a lot of mistakes so we’re going to watch film and get better from it.”
Besides Ramey, Coleman was the only other Longhorn to reach double-digits in scoring and carried the Horns to a seven-point lead in the first half thanks to a nine point flurry that included a pair of three’s and this “MC Slammer”:
Matt Coleman!!! MC Slammer!!! Wow!! Throw it down Matt!!! pic.twitter.com/yvWFdUCDNu— Anthony Geronimo (@ATXANT10) December 6, 2020
But the lack of help caused Texas to go through spurts of scoreless droughts, scoring only five points in the final 6-plus minutes after taking a 27-20 lead. Nova opened up an eight-point lead twice early on in the 2nd half, but Texas battled back and cut the lead to two with just under 7 minutes to go.
Sophomore Kai Jones scored seven points on 3-5 shooting but spent majority of the 2nd half in foul trouble. Jones didn’t score in the final frame until this timely bucket but missed the free throw that could’ve cut the lead to one with 20 seconds left.
Kai Jones with the bucket and baby giraffe smackdown and-1.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) December 6, 2020
It's 66-64 Nova. 8 seconds left in regulation. pic.twitter.com/vHeO63ZBs4
Shaka showed more trust in freshman Greg Brow, who saw crunch-time minutes down the stretch and displayed his high-ceiling on this sequence:
Brown showed flashes of brilliance and flashes of inexperience - three turnovers (two travels) but finished with seven points, six rebounds, two blocks, and provided some great defense down the stretch for Shaka.
While it’s the first loss for Shaka and Texas, it comes on the 7th day of a span that saw them defeat Davidson, Indiana, and North Carolina. That stretch of games is only rivaled in March and will help the Horns prepare for a potential deep-run in the postseason.
“If we can grow from this and keep getting better,” Smart said. “We’re going to be able to win games like this.”
The Longhorns will host Texas State on Wednesday (7 P.M./Longhorn Network) before opening conference play at #2 Baylor.