AUSTIN, Texas — In a hard-fought game at the Moody Center, the No. 4 Houston Cougars avoided an upset bid by the Texas Longhorns with a 76-72 overtime win on Big Monday behind 19 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds and a game-high 25 points from star guard Jamal Shead.
An active all-around game from Texas sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell helped give the Longhorns a chance to win it when senior guard Max Abmas bounced back from a slow start to score a team-high 20 points, including 6-of-8 shooting from free-throw line, while adding five assists. Senior forward Dylan Disu added 14 points following his own slow start before fouling at near the end of overtime.
Both teams started cold for the field with Houston hitting 1-of-6 shots with two turnovers at the first media timeout and Texas 2-of-7 shooting with a notable uncontested missed dunk by Mitchell as the Longhorn led 5-4.
Houston guard LJ Cryer hit the first three in four attempts by the Cougars after a turnover by Mitchell following the under-16 timeout prior to a heartening three from Longhorns senior forward Brock Cunningham fresh off the bench to bounce back from a 1-of-6 shooting performance from beyond the arc in Saturday’s loss to BYU in Provo. Another heartening development? Senior forward Kadin Shedrick coming off the bench to hit a jumper, matching his point total in 10 minutes against the other Cougars in the Big 12.
Less encouraging was a poor start by Abmas, who only hit one of his first five shots and also committed a turnover. It was a quiet start for Disu, too — the Vanderbilt transfer didn’t take his first shot until the 11:14 mark of the first half, a blocked layup, then missed a three on the next possession with Texas trailing 13-10.
Longhorns junior guard Tyrese Hunter finally broke a scoring drought of close to four minutes with a driving layup with 9:47 remaining in the opening half. On the other end, Shead hit a three to end a stretch of three and half minutes without a basket and Cryer followed with a runner to extend the Houston lead to 18-12; Texas head coach Rodney Terry called timeout without waiting for the under-eight timeout after two poor possession offensively.
Abmas responded by throwing the ball away, leading to a breakaway layup by Cryer before Cunningham shot an open three off the side of the backboard. Houston scored again on the other end when Disu was beat by J’Wan Roberts to extend the Cougars lead to double digits for the first time thanks to the 9-0 run, but Mitchell was able to send him his second dunk attempt of the game. A second-chance three by Houston and another offensive rebound on the next possession showcased the ability of the Cougars to crash the glass on their own misses, leading to another basket and an 11-point lead.
A turnover by Houston produced a three by Texas senior guard IT Horton, who nearly hit another one transition as Disu missed the put-back dunk attempt before getting dunked on at the other end and committing a subsequent turnover that led to a layup by the Cougars. When Disu missed an open three shortly thereafter, it was his sixth straight to start the game, a streak he finally ended with a bank shot from the right block.
Heading into the long-delayed under-four timeout with 56.8 seconds remaining, Texas trailed 33-23. On the underneath out-of-bounds play, Abmas got a clean look from three that missed, but the Cougars threw the ball away on its ensuing possession, allowing the Longhorns to cut the lead to single digits on a dunk by Shedrick before time expired.
Abmas finished the first half 2-of-7 shooting, combining with Disu to score only seven points on 3-of-14 shooting, far from what Texas needed to produce an upset against the top-ranked team in the country by KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency metric.
The Horns shot just 3-of-13 from three over the opening 20 minutes and 35.5 percent overall while the Cougars shot 46.7 percent, including scoring 16 points in the paint., doubling the output by Texas. Shead led all scorers with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Houston opened the second half with a corner three when Horton got lost on defense, but Disu drew a foul on a double team, then hit a floater while drawing another foul, converting the three-point play at the line, the first free-throw attempt of the game for Texas. In the turn, the Cougars hit another three from the same spot on the court before Abmas scored his third basket on a back-door cut that seemed to get him going a little bit — he hit a tough, contested three in a late-clock situation on the next possession. Then Mitchell made Houston pay for leaving him alone offensively, sending home a dunk from the baseline that brought the Moody Center crowd to its feet with the Cougars lead cut to six points.
With 15:22 remaining and the Houston lead reduced to a 41-37 score, Kelvin Sampson needed to call timeout in an attempt to halt the 7-0 run by Texas that Disu capped with a layup on an assist from Hunter, who had stolen the ball despite facing a mismatch on the block, the third straight stop for the Longhorns. A goaltender called on Mitchell sent the game into the first media timeout of the second half and halted some of the momentum for Texas with the deficit back to six points.
The crowd came to its feet again after Hunter hit a three late in the shot clock on a pass from Abmas, but Texas turned the ball over on its next possession and gave up offensive rebounds to Houston on consecutive trips down the court, though the Cougars only scored one point on those extra opportunities. A pull-up jumper by Abmas cut the margin to two points as the Longhorns survived more offensive rebounds heading into the under-12 timeout.
Shead shook Hunter off the bounce for a layup out of the break, but Mitchell corralled a tipped rebound from Shedrick for a layup of his own and a foul, then came up with another rebound on a trip by Shedrick and another layup to tie the game at 46-46. After Texas sophomore guard Chendall Weaver skied for a defensive rebound, Mitchell was credited with another basket on a goaltender, handing the Longhorns their first lead since it was 10-9 with 13:27 remaining in the first half.
Shead tied the game with a physical drive against Weaver, who responded with an aggressive attack off the bounce that earned him a trip to the free-throw line, though Weaver only made one. When Shead tried to bully Weaver again, Disu was there for the block and a strong cut off the ball by Weaver produced a lay in. Sampson was forced to call a timeout after the next possession when Disu hit a three in transition to give the Longhorns a 54-48 lead, the largest of the night, with 8:20 remaining and Texas on a 6-0 run and a 12-2 surge overall over three and a half minutes.
A second-chance three by Shead and another from distance for the Houston star after Disu had a shot blocked changed the game quickly, producing a third straight triple for the Cougars and a three-point lead. Mitchell broke the run by hitting two free throws as both teams were hitting from the field, including a 4-of-5 shooting stretch by Houston. Heading into the under-four timeout, Mitchell stole a pass from Shead and appeared headed for a dunk before Shead recovered to knock the ball away, though Mitchell was able to maintain possession for the Longhorns with the score at 59-58 in favor the Cougars.
Disu couldn’t retake the lead with a jumper and then committed his third foul on the defensive end as Texas deployed Mitchell on Shead and got a stop. In the double bonus, Abmas drew a foul on the perimeter, though he split the trip. Mitchell continued playing at a high level, using a quick move to the basket to create a layup and a two-point lead.
After an injury timeout for Houston, Weaver drew a loose-ball foul on Shead by getting a deflection, heading to the line, hitting both. Shead responded, rolling in a shot in the line through a foul by Weaver, who committed another on the missed free throw, allowing the Cougars to tie the game. Trying to run Abmas off the line, Shead fouled Abmas. The Texas guard rolled him the first and drained the second. On a third-chance offensive rebound after Disu blocked a dunk attempt by Shead, Houston banked home the shot through contact once again, but couldn’t convert the three-point play.
When Hunter came up with a defensive rebound, he pushed the ball in transition, but got in the air with nowhere to pass it and turned it over, allowing Houston to call a timeout with possession and 21.9 seconds remaining in the tie game, though with 20 seconds left on the shot clock, the Cougars couldn’t hold for the final attempt.
The shot went to Shead, who failed to draw iron on a three-pointer, leaving time left on the clock for the Longhorns, who called timeout as officials reviewed the clock, adding a second to leave 2.8 for Texas, though it wasn’t enough to get more than a halfcourt look for Abmas, who wasn’t able to connect off the backboard to leave the game tied at 65-65.
Houston won the jump ball and forced the fourth foul on a Disu, a significant development for Texas after the star forward managed to stay out of foul trouble through regulation. A bad offensive possession by the Longhorns ended in a turnover by Weaver as Disu sat in favor of Shedrick with the Cougars up by one point. Following another bad trip for Texas offensively, Abmas was able to do enough on a mismatch in the post to force a turnover on the entry pass, which also allowed Disu to check back in and throw the ball away trying to fit a pass into Weaver under the basket.
When Abmas fouled a jump shooter, Houston extended the lead to three points before Terry called for timeout with 2:10 remaining and Texas producing one bad shot and two turnovers on its first three possessions in overtime. Stepping through a double team, Disu drew a foul and two free throws, hitting both. The Cougars had little going offensively and settled for a jumper, but Joseph Tugler slammed home the put back. Abmas came up big on offense, though, drawing contact and banking home his shot to tie the game with the three-point play.
Tugler came up with another offensive rebound, leading to another basket for Houston and a timeout by Terry, his last, with 32 seconds left and the Cougars leading 72-70. Abmas missed a driving layup and the Longhorns couldn’t come up with the offensive rebound, leading to the fifth foul on Disu and two made free throws to put the game away. Texas still had a chance late when Abmas drew a foul on a three-points attempt, but Texas was unable to secure an offensive rebound when Abmas missed his third free throw intentionally, leading to a foul on the Longhorns that effectively ended the game with 0.1 second left.
Texas heads to Fort Worth on Saturday for a game against TCU.