It took every single second of regulation, but after fighting back late in the second half, the Texas Longhorns held on to knock off Kansas State 60-57 and snag their first conference win.
As expected, Texas certainly displayed more than its share of inconsistencies and deficiencies throughout the night following a 7-0 start to the game after holding K-State scoreless for the first 4:50 of the game. But in the absence of Cameron Ridley, on a night where it often seemed Texas quite simply was going to come up just short yet again, veterans Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix’s Texas-size efforts carried the Horns to a narrow victory.
After being down 46-50 down the stretch, a personal seven-point run by Felix and relentless rim attacks from Taylor put Texas in position to hold on at home. Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Longhorns rode their veteran guards’ momentum to the tune of Taylor and Felix racking up 19 of Texas’ final 23 points en route to 31 combined points; more than half of the team’s total. Prince Ibeh also played notably well for his standard, grabbing nine boards and adding seven points; the most since the early stages of Ibeh’s sophomore season.
Defensively, Texas could have done a better job not allowing second chance points around the rim, but collectively, holding four of K-State’s starters to single digit scoring efforts, including a scoreless night from Kamau Stokes and eight points from Wesley Iwundu is quite impressive. The Longhorns could have also shot substantially better from the perimeter, connecting on only 6-23 (26.1%). But at this point, while Texas seeks a new identity, any win is a great win, regardless of how horrid the stat sheet may look.
While it’s unlikely that anyone expected this game to be one of flash and excitement judging by the roster makeup and style of the two teams, bouncing back from a two-game skid against a tough opponent should build some momentum with some tremendously tough conference competition right around the corner.
But for now, Shaka Smart and the Longhorns look to try and spark another win streak with a favorable meeting on the road against TCU Saturday.