After fighting for their NCAA Tournament life throughout the final three games of the regular season, the Texas Longhorns faced much of the same against the Iowa State Cyclones during day one of the Big 12 Tournament.
After finding success in late must-win games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, Texas once again found itself on the favorable end of the scoreboard on Wednesday night, outlasting Iowa State 68-64 to earn a trip to the Big 12 quarterfinals.
Far more notably, though, on a night in which a loss would have pushed Texas outside of the field, per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the Longhorns essentially locked up an NCAA Tournament bid.
Texas certainly had to fight, though.
Iowa State opened the game on an offensive tear. By the 6:14 mark in the first half, the Cyclones pushed their edge to double digits, 28-18, thanks in large part to Texas missing each of its first nine three-point attempts.
However, Texas surged from that point forward until intermission.
After missing each of his first six field goal attempts, Dylan Osetkowski led the way for a 16-3 Longhorns run, which in turn, gave Texas a 34-31 lead at the break behind Osetkowski’s 13 points.
To an extent, Texas continued that run, entering the second half on a 6-0 run to push its lead to 40-31. But after pouring on nine points in the first half, Lindell Wiggington paved the way for Iowa State’s own run, as the Cyclones chipped away at Texas’ lead, and ultimately made it their own, 45-44, behind a 14-4 run.
With each team fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives, as a loss essentially would have eliminated Texas and Iowa State needed a Big 12 title to dance, the next 12 minutes became a back-and-forth slugfest.
After being deadlocked at 58 with five minutes remaining, it appeared as if Texas was taking control, sparking a 6-0 run throughout the next 1:12 for a 64-58 lead. But yet again, Iowa State answered with a 4-0 run of its own. And entering the key moments of the game, a Jericho Sims outback layup was answered by Cameron Lard layup, prompting a Texas timeout.
Only one minute remained in regulation, and with that minute set to decide whether or not Texas avoids missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in as many seasons, the Longhorns responded in resilient fashion.
With the shot clock and game clock ticking away, Matt Coleman connected on a deep jumper. And then after the ‘Horns and Cyclones exchanged turnovers, Iowa State went into desperation mode, but to no avail.
A Wiggington heave from the perimeter didn't find its mark, and Jacob Young came away with the tough defensive rebound to seal the Longhorns win, and almost surely, their NCAA Tournament berth.
Much more immediately, though, Texas will now get set to square off with Texas Tech in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2. The Longhorns and Red Raiders split the regular season series.
- Mohamed Bamba (toe) missed his third straight game. Bamba entered the evening listed as day-to-day, so it’s possible he’ll play against Texas Tech on Thursday.
- Osetkowski led the Longhorns with 10 points, connecting on seven of his final 12 attempts.
- Jase Febres was the only Longhorn to join Osetkowski in double figures after sinking four threes.
- Kerwin Roach II (who lost his tooth during the game) and Jacob Young each scored nine points, while Coleman and Sims each added eight points. Sims also finished with a career-high 15 rebounds.