At a point in the season in which the Texas Longhorns are already in must-win mode, Shaka Smart’s club fell just short, dropping its third straight game in a 74-73 double-overtime loss to the Baylor Bears.
For further perspective on exactly how significant Monday’s matchup was to not only the ‘Horns, but the Bears, as well — each entered at 15-10 (5-7) — per ESPN’s BPI, the winner’s NCAA Tournament odds will improve by 30 percent, while the loser’s will regress by just as much.
Of course, Texas finds itself on the wrong end of those odds.
On a night in which the Longhorns entered under-12 media timeout with just four points after starting 1-12 from the field, it felt as if Texas was lucky to even find itself with a chance to win down the stretch.
Trailing 25-22 at the break, Texas played from behind from behind throughout the entire second half, falling at risk of letting the game slip away at times.
Per usual, though, Texas battled.
Trailing 51-43 with 4:18 left in regulation following one of Terry Maston’s many made jumpers, the ‘Horns finally found some semblance of offensive consistency, and more notably, made key stops.
Matt Coleman is to thank for much of that.
Despite Texas slowly chipping away at Baylor’s lead, time to take control was wearing thin.
Trailing 53-49 with 1:39 left in regulation, Coleman’s missed jumper found itself in the arms of Mohamed Bamba, who dished to a wide open Coleman for a three-pointer to trim the lead to 53-52 with just 1:11 to play. After Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. reponded for Baylor on the other end, Coleman did too just seconds later to keep the deficit at just one point with 26 seconds remaining.
Now in must-foul mode, Texas placed Manu Lecompte — an 88 percent free throw shooter — on the line, and it paid dividends as he split the pair.
Yet again, with Texas down 56-54, it was Coleman who relished the moment, attacking offensively and getting fouled for a chance to tie the game with 12.2 seconds remaining.
He did just that, and following a Nuni Amot missed three-pointer and missed put-back opportunity from Acuil, Texas forced overtime.
The first overtime owned a strikingly similar theme to the final minutes. After exchanging blows, Texas found itself trailing 64-60 with 38.2 seconds remaining and Coleman at the line once more, and once again, he sank both. The following series, after Texas forced a Baylor shot clock violation, it was Kerwin Roach II who found himself at the line with a chance to tie the game with just 3.2 seconds remaining.
He, too, capitalized, and after Lecompte’s three-point heave clanked off the rim, Texas and Baylor were headed for double-overtime.
The hot-handed Maston opened up the second overtime doing exactly what he did throughout the entire second half — scoring. A pair of quick buckets from Maston fave Baylor a 70-68 edge before Eric Davis Jr., who missed two critical technical foul free throws late in regulation, redeemed himself with a three-pointer to give Texas its first lead since 20-17. Maston responded yet again, and moments later, following another Baylor shot clock violation, Roach went straight to the rim to regain the lead, 73-72, with just 21 seconds to play.
With momentum and the need for one final stop, though, Texas couldn’t capitalize, allowing an Acuil put-back dunk to give Baylor the 74-73 lead with 8.2 seconds remaining. With one final opportunity to win the game, a Roach fadeaway floater sealed the loss for the Longhorns and quite possibly, Texas’ NCAA Tournament dreams.
- Now 15-11 (5-8), life won’t get any easier for Texas. The Longhorns next five games are at No. 23 Oklahoma, at Kansas State, against Oklahoma, at No. 13 Kansas and against No. 20 West Virginia. The Longhorns have already lost to the latter four.
- With 16 points and 16 rebounds, Bamba notched his 13th double-double, which leads the Big 12. Dylan Osetkowski, Roach and Coleman each added 15 points of their own.
- Lecompte and Acuil combined for 30 points for Baylor, but it was Maston who led the way offensively for Baylor. The senior finished with a career-high 26 points on 12-17 from the field. The rest of the Bears combined for just 18 points.