A strong start gave the Texas Longhorns leads as large as 16 points in the first half, but the Texas Tech Red Raiders surged back in the second half to pulled out a 62-57 win by overcoming an 11-point deficit at the Erwin Center on Saturday.
As Texas was called for 15 fouls in the second half — compared to only six called on Texas Tech — the Red Raiders were able to shoot 21 free throws, making 16 of them. Meanwhile, after turning the ball over only twice in the first half, the Horns coughed up the ball nine times in the final 20 minutes
The second half came with some heavy attrition for Texas, too, as freshman forward Kai Jones left the game with an ankle injury and junior guard Jase Febres was down on the court for several minutes suffering a non-contact injury when his left knee buckled. Neither player returned.
With Jones and Febres out, Texas Tech took advantage of perimeter switches by Texas sophomore forward Kamaka Hepa in his first game back from a high ankle sprain, consistently attacking Hepa off the bounce and finding success doing so. With junior forward Jericho Sims dealing with foul trouble before he committed his fifth with 3:17 remaining, there simply weren’t many other options.
Sims had arguably his worst game of the season, failing to score and committing two turnovers in 19 minutes.
Longhorns junior guard Matt Coleman tried to will Texas to victory down the stretch, scoring or assisting on nine straight points, but his last three drives to the basket all resulted in blocked shots. Coleman finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Even for a Big 12 game this season, both teams got off to slow starts, each making a single field goal in the first four minutes as the defenses dominated the game to start. For Texas, the inability to get much out of the pick and roll made it extremely difficult to get good looks at the basket. On defense, the Longhorns started off with high-level intensity and effort and maintained it throughout the first half.
The game found some rhythm after the under-16 timeout. Texas largely abandoned the pick and roll, instead capitalizing on the quickness of Coleman going one on one off the bounce to break down the Texas Tech defense. Sophomore guard Andrew Jones also hit two three-pointers and scored twice transition attacking the rim before the Red Raiders could get set, including an And-1 he finished over his shoulder facing away from the basket.
Fueled by 10 Texas Tech turnovers, Texas opened up a 22-8 lead thanks to 14 straight points that included a late-lock jump shot by Coleman after going behind the back that provided an indication of just how well the Longhorns were playing. By the 6:40 mark, the Red Raiders had gone nearly six minutes without scoring.
Another three from Jones gave Texas a 27-11 lead. In fact, with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, Jones was out-scoring the entire Texas Tech team at the under-four timeout. A timeout by Shaka Smart couldn’t stop a Red Raiders run that eventually featured eight straight points before Jones ended it by getting to the free-throw line. When sophomore guard Courtney Ramey hit a difficult running bank shot, Texas was able to get into halftime with a 31-19 lead despite the fact that beyond Jones, the rest of the team was 6-of-21 shooting in the first half.
Texas Tech was able to score 16 points in the paint in the first half, but missed all five three-point attempts and turned the ball over 11 times. As a result, the Longhorns took seven more field-goal attempts and five more free throws than the visitors.
When the Red Raiders scored seven quick points in the second half, it was Coleman who scored two baskets to help maintain the lead, then found Jones for a layup on the break to regain the halftime margin.
A bad turnover by Jones, the first three of the game by Texas Tech, and a good look at a three by junior guard Jase Febres negated by stepping out of bounds cut the Texas lead to seven, setting up a critical stretch for the Longhorns coming out of the under-16 timeout.
A fast-break dunk by Royce Hamm was a significant play for the Horns, but perhaps not as significant as the injury to Febres.
A three-minute drought for Texas followed as Texas Tech went on a 6-0 run, including a difficult falling finish by Terrence Shannon through contact, to cut the lead to three. The Longhorns missed six straight shots during that stretch, including several good looks by freshman guard Donovan Williams, who made a difficult shot at the rim following a spin move, but missed his other five shot attempts.
After turning the ball over twice in the first half, Texas committed eight in the first 10 minutes after halftime.
Sims struggled, too — he spent long stretches on the bench in foul trouble, missed a shot at the rim, turned it over on the next possession, then committed his fourth foul as Texas Tech tied the game with a three-point play.
When Hamm slammed home another dunk after two missed shots, it broke a scoreless drought of 4:31.
With Texas Tech attempting 15 free throws int he first 15 minutes of the second half, it was Coleman once again responding when Texas needed baskets — the Red Raiders had just taken the team’s first lead since 4-3 in the first half. In fact, Coleman scored or assisted on nine straight points for the Horns.
By the end of the game, however, it was Coleman against the entire Texas Tech team, resulting in two big blocks by the Red Raiders. Two free throws by Texas Tech Davide Moretti pushed the lead to three with 15.3 seconds remaining. Trying to get a quick basket, Coleman had another shot blocked and Moretti was fouled again.
When Coleman’s shot was blocked for a third time, the game was over and the Longhorns had missed a big opportunity to secure a resume-boosting win.
Now Texas will have to battle through adversity, potentially with three contributors out with injuries. There’s another short turnaround, too, as Baylor comes to Austin for a Big Monday game.