Despite shooting 51 percent from the floor and 56 percent from three on the road, the Texas Longhorns (15-13, 7-8 Big 12) blew a 19-point second-half lead and lost to the Baylor Bears (19-9, 10-5 Big 12) in overtime, 84-83. Mario Kegler drained two free throws with 3.2 seconds to go in overtime, which turned out to be the game-winning points for Baylor. With this loss, the Longhorns will need to finish the season 2-1 to reach .500 in conference play.
The tough off-the-court breaks kept coming for the Horns, as they were without both their senior starters tonight. Kerwin Roach II (indefinitely suspended) did not make the trip to Waco and Dylan Osetkowski was held out due to flu-like symptoms. Freshman Kemaka Hepa got his first career start in place of Osetkowski at forward.
Jase Febres had 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting (7-for-14 from 3) and Courtney Ramey had 17 points and 10 assists to lead the way for Texas, notching his first career double-double. Hepa pitched in with 11 points, four rebounds, and was a perfect 3-for-3 from three in his 39 minutes of action.
Along with his game-winning free throws, Kegler led the way for Baylor with 24 points and seven rebounds.
Devonte Bandoo, Jared Butler, and Kegler shot a combined 11-for-19 from beyond the arc. 7-of-their-11 three-point makes came after Baylor was trailing by 17 points with 8:30 left in the game.
Baylor outrebounded Texas 37-25 for the game and 16-8 on the offensive glass. Especially down the stretch, the Longhorns gave up way too many second-chance points in this one while playing with the lead. In fact, Baylor rebounded 50 percent of their missed shots.
After Kegler knocked down a jumper to get Baylor going on their first possession, Febres responded with a three to open the scoring for Texas.
Texas’ best offense early on came from behind on the arc, as they started off 3-of-4 from three. Hepa was fouled on his first shot attempt of the game — a three — and made 2-of-3 free throws at the line.
The first-half momentum swing came at the 11:37 mark when Hayes picked up his second foul of the game. This came just minutes after Coleman picked up his second foul on a clean block attempt. Texas lead 17-16 at the under-12 timeout.
This momentum swing turned out to be in the Horns favor, as the lineup of Ramey, Elijah Mitrou-Long, Febres, Hepa, and Jericho Sims ended the half on a 23-13 run.
Ramey had control of the offense the rest of the half since Coleman was sidelined with foul trouble. The freshman was aggressive, assertive, and effective with or without the ball in his hands. He led the way with 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds for the half. This was by far the best half of basketball Ramey has played this season and it came when his team needed it most.
Kegler had 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting, three rebounds, and three assists to lead Baylor at the break.
After Ramey knocked down a desperation three with :01 on the shot clock and 10 seconds left in the half, Baylor quickly pushed it up the court and Makai Mason was fouled on a three after getting bailed out on a leg kick. He made all three free throws and cut the deficit to 40-29 at the break.
Just as he did to start the game, Febres knocked down a three to start the second half to push the lead back to 14. The team’s best three-point shooter did his job tonight, as he went on to make three more three-pointers within the first five minutes of the half to help push Texas out to a 55-36 lead.
After Baylor responded with a quick 5-0 run, Shaka Smart wisely decided to call a timeout to end that run. A well-designed play out of the timeout led to a Coleman three-pointer, which quickly halted that small run.
Baylor wouldn’t go away that quickly, though. The conference’s best three-point shooting team in conference play started to find their rhythm. Back-to-back threes from Bandoo and Kegler cut the deficit back to what it was at halftime (11) with 7:57 to go.
Scott Drew broke out his extended 3-2 zone defense late in the second half and it gave the Horns all sorts of problems offensively.
The Longhorns began to play sloppy on both sides of the ball while playing with the lead. Following a couple turnovers and poor closeouts on defense — which led to open three-pointers — the lead was down to two with 3:10 remaining. Baylor would tie things up at the line a possession later.
A perfect dribble-drive kick out from Ramey to Hepa led to a Hepa three-pointer to put Texas back up 67-64 with 2:24 left. But, Bandoo would respond with a three of his own to make it 67-67.
Jared Butler gave Baylor its first lead since early in the first half at 69-68 with a jumper. A dribble-pop action play designed for Febres worked to perfection and Febres drilled a straightaway go-ahead three to put Texas back up by two with 43 seconds remaining.
Butler converted again from inside-the-arc with 28 seconds left and Texas would hold for the last shot.
Texas ran that same action play to Febres on the final play of the game, except this time, Coleman was able to get inside the zone and had a look for the win.
His floater attempt went off the side of the rim and the game was headed to overtime.
In overtime, Texas was finally able to get Hayes more looks inside offensively. He scored four of his nine points in overtime. Febres and Hepa followed his hot start with three-pointers of their own and Texas was in business up 81-75 with 1:46 remaining in overtime.
Just when Texas started to regain control of the game, Butler drilled a three-pointer to pull the Bears back within three at the 1:28 mark. Baylor got a stop and a score off of an offensive rebound to make it a one-point game with 45 seconds left.
On Texas’ next offensive possession, Febres swished a huge step-back jumper in Butler’s face to push it back to a three-point game.
After a Baylor score, Hayes traveled on the in-bounds play and turned the ball back over to Baylor, who was down by just one point with 7.3 seconds left.
The Bears went to Kegler with the game on the line and Febres/Hayes defended it perfectly to force a miss, but the refs blew the whistle and called a questionable shooting foul on Hayes. Kegler went on to make both free throws to put Baylor ahead 84-83 with 3.2 seconds left.
Smart substituted walk-on Blake Nevins into the game for the long ensuing in-bounds pass. Hayes wasn’t able to corral the pass, but the ball bounced to Febres. Febres threw up a desperation three-pointer that missed off the top of the backboard as time expired.
This loss could very well end being the difference between making or missing the NCAA Tournament for Smart and the Longhorns.
Following back-to-back losses away from home, the Longhorns will return home to face the Iowa State Cyclones (20-8, 9-6 Big 12) at the Erwin Center this Saturday. Tip will be at 1:00 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on ESPN2.