In what seemed like a well-handled game for Texas ended up as yet another heartbreaking loss for the Longhorns. The team held a comfortable lead for most the game, but it was not enough to prevent another huge comeback by the Longhorns’ opponent.
Texas was already set back with Kerwin Roach II serving a second suspension of the season coming into this game. To make matters worse, Dylan Osetkowski came down with flu-like symptoms and was not healthy to play Wednesday night. This meant that both the Longhorns’ leading scorer and leading rebounder were not in the lineup. Instead, Shaka Smart’s starting five included three freshmen and two sophomores, highlighted by freshman F Kamaka Hepa’s first start of the season.
The first half was back and forth, with both teams exchanging points early. Texas started the game hot from behind the arc, as they went 4 of 5 from three-point range. The two teams had 10 lead changes in the first 10 minutes of the first half, until Texas got hot. The Longhorns roared to a 37-23 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the half. Texas was able to do whatever they wanted, as Baylor’s defense struggled to keep up with the movement and open looks of the Texas offense. Courtney Ramey was especially effective in the first half, shooting 6 of 7 from the field with 15 points and 5 assists. Texas finished the half shooting 6 of 9 from three-point range, doubling their season average of 33%. The half ended with a score line of 40-29 in favor of Texas.
The Longhorns had a quick start to the second half, immediately extending their lead. Jase Febres played a large part in this lead extension, most notably through his effectiveness from behind the arc. He finished with a team-high 23 points, going 7 for 14 from three-point range. But once Texas extended their lead to 19 at 55-36 with just under 15 minutes remaining, they became complacent. The team was not contesting open looks for Baylor, and were getting out-rebounded. To make matters worse, Texas was not handling the ball well after this point, and allowed for Baylor to get fast break opportunities. After a 19-2 run by Baylor within 9 minutes, Baylor brought themselves within 3 points of Texas at 62-59. The effective Mario Kegler led the way for Baylor, finishing with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, and ultimately breaking down the young lineup Shaka Smart had playing.
After a few more open three-point shots by Baylor, they found themselves tied with Texas. Texas tried to match these three-pointers, especially Courtney Ramey, who became cold in the second half. These efforts created wasted possessions that only assisted the comeback efforts of Baylor and their home crowd. Baylor’s Jared Butler and Devonte Bandoo made sure to get the crowd involved, as they each finished with 4 three-pointers on the night. The score got to 71-71 with under 3o seconds left, and Texas had possession. With the game tied, Matt Coleman III took the ball and drove it to the right side. But his double-teamed weak-handed floater was off the mark, sending the game to overtime.
Texas allowed Baylor to comeback partially due to their offensive approach in the latter half of the second half. They relied on iso-guard plays from guys like Coleman, not accounting for the terrible defense they played all game that left guards open for deep mid-range shots and three-point shots.
Texas started strong in the overtime, with a lead of 81-75. But after two quick baskets for Baylor, they brought themselves within one. After a contested shot made by Febres and a quick layup by Baylor, Texas had possession with less than 10 seconds and a lead of 83-82. But on the inbound pass, the referees called a travel on Jaxson Hayes on what looked like a Baylor foul. Texas then fouled Baylor, who made both free throws, then Texas could not convert on a full court pass.
Texas Perseverance. – The Longhorns must learn how to play a full game. A big reason why they have had such an inconsistent season is because they do not play with the same constructive approach every game. Instead, the team is looking for things to happen. In the game against Oklahoma, the team showed a resilience in the second half that showed promise for their late season run. They carried that resilience into the first half and early second half against Baylor. But they had a change of mindset, and rolled over late, giving Baylor all of the momentum. Although the team has had miscellaneous circumstances, with Kerwin Roach’s suspension and Dylan Osetkowski’s illness, the team has shown they have the potential and talent to win without these key players. But the team needs to play together and play a full game.
Kamaka Hepa Shows Promise. – Kamaka Hepa was effective against Baylor, scoring 11 points in his first start. This is promising for the Longhorns, as the freshman can be a threat moving forward in the year and in seasons to come. Look for Hepa to have a solidified role in the rotation, especially if Osetkowski has trouble recovering quickly.
Great Shooting Night for Texas. – Although Texas suffered a tough loss, they shot well on the night. The team shot 50% from the field, and shot an impressive 55.6% from three-point range (15-27). Febres tied his season high in three-pointers made, displaying his sharpshooting abilities that can translate into continuous success if he gets hot early in game.
Texas looks to bounce back after losing 3 of their last 4 when they host Iowa State this Saturday at 1:00 PM CST, televised on ESPN2.
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