NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a game where only shot-makers need apply, Texas came up short in a wild back-and-forth game against Nevada that defines March Madness.
Playing in a school-record eighth overtime game this season, the Longhorns got a career-breaking performances from Kerwin Roach II and Matt Coleman. But the Wolf Pack, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in Division I, hit just enough in the extra frame to create enough space to escape with a 87-83 victory in the NCAA Tournament.
Roach had a career-best 26 points with six made 3-pointers. Coleman set new career benchmarks with 25 points, including some critical buckets in overtime. Still, Texas’ season comes to a crashing end with a 19-15 record.
Josh Hall hit a free throw with 38 seconds left in OT that gave Nevada (28-7) a four-point lead. On UT’s next possession, Coleman lost the ball and gave it back to Nevada. Jordan Caroline hit one free throw with 22 seconds left, and then Kendall Stephens hit two more with 14.5 left to seal it.
All of this happened without Mo Bamba, UT’s superstar freshman. He fouled out with 3.8 seconds left regulation trying to block Jordan Caroline’s potential game-winning shot. In what is expected to be Bamba’s final game at Texas, he finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. He’s projected as a top-five lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
Texas struggled with free throws all season long. In regulation, the Longhorns couldn’t convert at the free throw line and with a simple entry pass, and now they’re headed home from the NCAA Tournament.
Roach missed a free throw with 18.3 seconds left in a one-point game. With the clock winding down, Caroline got UT’s Mo Bamba to foul out. Caroline missed the first but hit the second shot, tying things up.
Then, Dylan Osetkowski threw a half-hearted entry pass to Jericho Sims at mid-court. The ball was knocked out of bounds, giving Nevada another chance with 1.6 seconds left. Fortunately for Texas, Caleb Martin’s 3-point attempt didn’t really have a chance, and the game went to overtime.
In the biggest game of his career, Roach came up with one of his best shooting performances. The junior tied his career high with four 3-pointers. He also showed no fear driving to the basket, like when his two-handed slam gave Texas a 52-46 lead. Talk about going all out. In the first half, Roach delivered a blow that would’ve made football coach Tom Herman proud on Cody Martin. Still, he was called for the charge.
Texas got off to bad starts in two games in the Big 12 tournament. Players talked at length about getting out of the gate quick against Nevada. Roach hit two early buckets to spark a 10-0 run. Then, the Horns pieced together a 9-0 run capped by Bamba’s thunderous dunk with 11:48 remaining in the first half. Texas led 19-10 at that point. Frankly, it was one of their best starts in weeks. Just what the doctor ordered.
If anyone thought Texas could hold a 14-point lead for the duration of the second half, they haven’t been paying attention this season. These Horns have lost double-digit leads all year. After the under-16 timeout, UT players were smiling while Nevada coach Eric Musselman was going off in his group in the huddle. Josh Hall’s running layup made it a four-point game with 12:52 remaining.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Nevada came into the tournament as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation. But the Wolf Pack was 3-of-12 beyond the arc in the first half, a key reason why they trailed by nine at the break. Caleb Martin was 0-for-3. Meanwhile, the Horns were 6-for-13 from 3-point range at the break.
Things were going so well at that point, Coleman didn’t even bother to watch Jacob Young swish a trey from the right corner with 1:16 left. Coleman ran the other way with his arms raised. That bucket gave Texas a 35-23 lead.
Now, the Longhorns are headed back home to ponder a future without Bamba, a sure-fire NBA lottery pick. The team has no seniors, so it’ll be an experienced team returning. Keep an eye on Roach’s future. He’ll likely talk to NBA teams to and test the pro waters to see where he stands.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email email@example.com.
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