In the NCAA tournament, though, that’s not always enough, and for the Texas Longhorns on Friday afternoon, it wasn’t, as Shaka Smart’s club fell to the Nevada Wolf Pack in overtime, 87-83,
Unfortunately for Texas, its 2018 NCAA Tournament appearance will be a tale of what could have been.
After Nevada opened the game on a quick 5-0 spurt, Texas found its stroke from deep, hitting 6-13, while Nevada nailed just two of its next 11 to give the Longhorns a 35-26 halftime edge. Coming out of the break, the ‘Horns picked up right where they left off, as Kerwin Roach II nailed a quick three and just moments later, a Matt Coleman steal led to a transition layup, and thus, a 40-26 Texas edge to cap a 20-minute stretch in which the Longhorns nearly doubled Nevada on the scoreboard.
But then the shots started falling for Nevada, and slowly but surely, quit falling quite as frequently for Texas.
Just seconds after the Longhorns appeared to be in complete control, Caleb Martin converted a four-point play. Initially, Texas was answering Nevada’s late-blooming offensive success — almost entirely from the perimeter — but in a game that was largely one of runs until down the stretch, the Longhorns allowed the Wolf Pack’s sharpshooting to spark a 10-1 burst that helped trim Texas’ 14-point lead to just 46-42 throughout a five-minute stretch.
Everything throughout the final 13 minutes of regulation and ultimately, the five-minute overtime period was essentially a back-and-forth affair.
As Nevada’s offense found a smooth rhythm, Texas still managed to own a lead that bounced back-and-forth between one and six points.
Just moments after a Coleman three-pointer pushed the Texas lead to 59-55, Mohamed Bamba was whistled for a quite questionable foul call with 6:00 remaining that sent him to the bench with his fourth foul. In his absence, Jericho Sims found four quick points at the rim to keep the lead at five, 64-59, but the Longhorns offense disappeared throughout the next three minutes.
Throughout that stretch, Texas missed four shots, including two layups, committed a turnover, and missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the free throw line before Bamba put his own miss back with 1:32 left to snap the scoring drought. Meanwhile, Nevada trimmed the Texas lead to just one and kept it that way throughout the final seconds.
With an opportunity to build some small semblance of a cushion with 18 seconds to play, Roach went to the free throw line for a one-and-one with Texas leading 68-67, but missed the front end, and moments later, Bamba picked up his fifth and final foul on yet another questionable call with 3.8 seconds remaining — it would prove to be the final play of Bamba’s Texas tenure.
Jordan Caroline missed one, but made the other to deadlock the game at 68.
Texas was provided one final opportunity in regulation, but a Dylan Osetkowski inbounds pass was too tall for Sims, and after rolling out of bounds, Nevada was provided with one final opportunity of its own.
Caleb Martin’s last-second heave from deep fell short, meaning to notch the first NCAA Tournament win of the Smart era, Texas would have to do so in overtime.
Without Bamba, it was Coleman who shouldered the load for the Longhorns in overtime.
The freshman point guard opened the extra period with a quick three, and after Cody Martin answered with a layup, Coleman bounced back with a jumper to give Texas the 73-70 lead. Caleb, the other Martin brother, answered with his own three, and then Roach responded with his second four-point play of the afternoon to provide the ‘Horns with a 77-73 lead.
It was all Nevada from that point, though.
After Caroline emhopatically responded with a dunk, Caleb Martin’s three gave Nevada a 78-77 edge to mark the Wolf Pack’s first lead since 5-2. Seconds later, he sank another, and after Coleman and Cody Martin exchanged buckets, the latter fouled Coleman to pick up his fifth and send Coleman to the line with 46 ticks remaining.
The freshman only converted one of the two opportunities, though, and meanwhile, as Texas went into must-foul mode, Nevada nailed four free throws down the stretch. Roach did connect on a prayer from the perimeter, but it was too little too late, as an 8-3 Wolf Pack run led to an 87-83 Nevada win to end the third season under Smart.
Texas finished its 2017-18 slate at 19-15, and with its latest loss, drops to 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament under Smart.
- Bamba finished what will almost surely be his final game as a Longhorn with 13 points and 14 rebounds to notch his 15th double-double of the season.
- Roach and Coleman each notched career-high scoring totals with 26 points and 25 points, respectively.
- Aside from Bamba, Roach and Coleman, the rest of the team combined to score 19 points.
- Texas out-rebounded Nevada 42-34 and matched made threes (11).
- Hallice Cook scored just three points for the Wolf Pack, but the other five contributors each totaled at least 14 points, with Kendall Stephens leading the way with 22 behind five made threes.
This story will be updated.