Less than 24 hours removed from the news that their teammate Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia, the Texas Longhorns had to find the will to play a basketball game. Then, less than an hour before tip-off against the TCU Horned Frogs, Texas announced that it would be without yet another starter, as junior guard Kerwin Roach II is now sidelined with a fractured left hand.
But bolstered by emotion and what became a career night for numerous Longhorns, Texas matched its entire 2016-17 win total with a thrilling and emotional 99-98 double-overtime victory over the No. 16-ranked Horned Frogs.
With Jones and Roach absent from the lineup, Shaka Smart sent out a starting lineup featuring four freshmen and three big men: Matt Coleman, Jase Febres, Dylan Osetkowski, Jericho Sims, and Mohamed Bamba. And despite the absences and intense nature of the game, especially throughout the second half and each overtime period, only Eric Davis Jr. and Jacob Young joined the starters as Longhorns to see the floor tonight.
Fortunately for the ‘Horns, seven bodies was just enough for a win dedicated to Andrew Jones.
Coming out of the gates, it seemed as if Texas certainly wouldn’t require 10 extra minutes of action to earn its first ranked win of the season.
The ‘Horns jumped out to a 6-0 start, which quickly ballooned to an 18-5 edge. In what became a career effort from Coleman and Sims, the two connected several times for highlight-worthy dunks, but a sharpshooting display helped the Horned Frogs remain just within striking distance.
Courtesy of Coleman’s eight assists and Sims’ 11 points, Texas entered intermission with a 43-33 advantage, but after the Horned Frogs hit seven first half threes, that lead was far from comfortable.
Texas opened the second half enjoying much of the same advantage. After a Davis three found the net, the ‘Horns increased their lead to 54-43 with 13:48 to play, but then things got interesting.
A Jaylen Fisher layup and subsequent three-pointer trimmed the deficit to 54-48, and at a point at which it seemed the momentum was swinging, Texas responded. Young answered Fisher’s three with one of his own, and following a Fisher layup, Young dished a dime to Osetkowski, who converted the and-one to push the lead back to double digits, 60-50.
Moments later, though, in what proved to be a turning point, Bamba picked up his fourth foul with 9:49 remaining in regulation. What was a 62-52 Texas edge was quickly trimmed to 62-58 after a 6-0 TCU run, and at the 7:34 mark, a JD Miller jam brought the Horned Frogs within two, 63-61, which was the closest the game had been since the opening basket.
Just over a minute later, following a Sims offensive foul, Kenrich Williams hit one of his seven three-pointers to provide TCU with its first lead of the evening with 6:24 in regulation, and it became a back-and-forth slugfest from that point on.
Osetkowski answered with a layup before Fisher responded with one of his own, and seconds later, a 4-0 Texas run was outmatched by a 5-0 run from the Horned Frogs.
The drama was just beginning, though.
In what appeared to be a broken possession, Coleman heaved an awkward jump shot as the shot clock expired — it connected, giving Texas the 74-73 lead with 2:08 remaining. The following minute, Davis was faced with a similar situation, and his prayer from the perimeter found its mark, pushing Texas’ lead to 77-73 with 1:07 remaining.
But just when Texas appeared in control, Vladimir Brodziansky calmly converted two free throws with 45.5 seconds left and after Coleman dribbled the ball off his foot the following possession, it was Brodziansky who forced overtime with a layup with 9.9 ticks remaining.
Fortunately for Texas, the career night from Davis continued in overtime, as the junior guard opened the extra session with a quick three-pointer. But once again, TCU bounced back, as a Brodziansky outback and Williams three gave the Horned Frogs an 82-80 lead with just under three minutes remaining in overtime. After an Osetkowski free throw, Williams sank yet another trey, and with just over two minutes left in the first overtime, TCU appeared to be taking control.
But after Coleman and Sims combined to carry Texas in the first half, it was Osetkowski and Davis who did much of the heavy lifting down the stretch.
A pair of Osetkowski free throws were followed up by a crucial Davis fadeaway jumper to cut the deficit to 86-85, and after Bamba blocked Alex Robinson for one of his five blocks, Osetkowski seemingly sealed the deal with the Davis-assisted three-pointer to give Texas an 88-86 lead with just 7.8 ticks remaining.
Yet again, though, Brodziansky answered, nailing a mid-range jumper at the end of overtime to force five more minutes.
Brodziansky continued his hot streak in double-overtime, as well.
With the game tied 90-90, Brodziansky forced Bamba to pick up his fifth and final foul with 3:50 remaining before sinking both free throws. The following possession, a Brodziansky layup pushed TCU’s lead to 94-90 before a Davis layup and pair of Osetkowski free throws knotted things up once again, 94-94. After an Osetkowski offensive rebound led to two more free throws to tie the game at 96 with 58.9 seconds remaining, it was Fisher who found some luck at the charity stripe for the 98-96 edge.
A Coleman layup some sheer will from Davis on the other end of the floor to save the ball to Sims put the freshman at the line.
Sims sunk one, and that’s all Texas needed.
With 5.6 seconds left, TCU pushed and Fisher got a clean look at the rim, but missed the layup, giving Texas an emotional one-point victory on a night in which No. 1 was in the thoughts and prayers and the burnt orange nation and many more.
Shaka Smart to ESPN: "Our guys really wanted to win for Andrew. He's the one that's been in our minds and our hearts. We love him."— Bob Ballou (@BobBallouSports) January 11, 2018
Shaka: Proud of the way our guys hung in and battled. Andrew’s the best fighter on our team and he’s got a fight ahead of him, but our guys really fed off his spirit tonight. pic.twitter.com/mb16xCJwUu— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) January 11, 2018
Of the seven Longhorns who saw the floor, five finished in double figures with Febres and Young each adding eight of their own. Davis led the way with a career-high 22 points off the bench on an efficient 8-15 shooting display, which included several clutch connections. Osetkowski scored 20 points of his own, courtesy of a 9-11 shooting display from the charity stripe.
Coleman recorded his first double-double as a Longhorn with 17 points and a career-high 12 assists, and Sims scored a career-high 14 points, thanks in large part to Coleman’s dime-dropping. Bamba came just short of yet another double-double with 10 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks.