The Longhorns still have some fight left in them, but they still struggle in close games.
The Wildcats got a late bucket and tack-on free throw with 1.6 seconds remaining and held on for a 64-61 victory at the Erwin Center, snapping a three-game losing streak in Austin. Texas fell to 3-7 in games decided by three points or less this season.
K-State had a nine-point lead in the second half. But the Horns (10-17, 4-10 Big 12) clawed all the way back and tied things up with Andrew Jones’ off-balance 3-pointer with 3:52 remaining.
The two teams traded two more baskets, and K-State coach Bruce Weber called timeout with 8.6 seconds left to draw up a final play. Kamau Stokes missed a jumper, and D.J. Johnson tipped it back in while drawing a foul from UT’s Kendal Yancy.
Yancy led the way for the Longhorns with 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting and Jarrett Allen added 12 more. Texas shot 47 percent overall and actually made real strides at the free throw line. The Horns were 11 for 16.
Mareik Isom, better known as Mo, hasn’t made much of an impact this season. The graduate transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock came back to his hometown to play his final year of eligibility. This was by far his best game of the season. Isom had eight points and four rebounds and plenty of hustle points in just 16 minutes. He got a well-deserved ovation with less than five minutes left after subbing out.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The most interesting number of the day? Three, as in that’s how many players got ejected with 12:35 remaining in the second half. K-State’s Austin Budke got whistled after it appeared to tried to undercut Allen under the basket. Allen flashed some rare anger, and the crowd suddenly sprung to its feet. Budke got ejected for a flagarant-2 foul, and UT’s Dylan Osetkowski (transfer sitting out) and Isaiah Hobbs (walk-on) were ejected for leaving the bench area.
Both teams deserve a tip of the cap for their scorching-hot performance from 3-point range in the first half. The Longhorns were 6 for 9 from downtown before the break. Eric Davis Jr. and Kendal Yancy both drilled two shots each. But the Wildcats were even better, hitting 7 of 8 with extremely confidence. KSU shot 76 percent in the first half.
Jones got a rude welcome on Saturday. He threw the ball away for the game’s first turnover just 14 seconds after tipoff. Then, Wesley Iwundu showed some terrific moves to beat Jones to the bucket twice for points as K-State jumped out to a 12-4 lead. Maybe that made Jones a little gun shy. He took only one shot in the first half and had two assists in a quiet 11 minutes.
The Longhorns’ closing stretch is a meat grinder. First comes Monday’s trip to No. 9 West Virginia for an 8 p.m. game on ESPN’s Big Monday telecast. Coach Bob Huggins probably hasn’t forgotten about the Horns’ last appearance in Morgantown. A senior-laded Texas squad battled its way to a 56-49 win. Then, UT returns home next Saturday to host No. 3 Kansas.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.