Despite winning their previous 4 games, the Longhorns desperately needed a road win against Oklahoma to strengthen their resume in hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. In a game that featured poor offensive performances by both teams, Texas somehow found a way to keep their season alive, with Matt Coleman banking in a 3-pointer with .4 seconds left to give the Longhorns a 52-51 victory over the Sooners. Here are some thoughts from a game that reminded us all that March Madness is here:
- It was the Matt Coleman show all evening for Texas. The Longhorns struggled to get other guys going offensively, forcing Coleman to take over in crunch time. The junior guard finished with a game-high 21 points and took every big shot down the stretch.
- Looking at the box score, it is hard to believe Texas was able to escape Norman with a win. The Longhorns shot a total of 2 (!!) free throws the entire game, with both coming following a flagrant foul by Austin Reaves that sent Andrew Jones to the line. While the lack of free throws could be chalked up to a number of different reasons, the primary one was the fact that Oklahoma did a good job all evening of limiting the Texas guards from getting to the rim. Kristian Doolittle made his presence known throughout the game. The senior, who seemed to be at Oklahoma forever, finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but he also missed a pair of free throws with 5 seconds left that gave Texas a chance to go for the win.
- It was another excellent game for Brock Cunningham. The redshirt freshman finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds, but was his typical self on both ends of the floor all night, diving for loose balls and making the little plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He is the glue that is holding the Longhorns together right now on both ends of the floor.
- Royce Hamm had another very solid game on the boards, grabbing 11 rebounds and having a spirited battle with Doolittle for most of the game.
- With the Longhorns down to 8 healthy scholarship players, Shaka Smart is having to count on everyone to play meaningful minutes. Will Baker has had hot and cold shooting nights since he’s seen his minutes increase, and he finished Tuesday’s game 0-2 from the field, with both misses coming from beyond the arc. If the Longhorns hope to do any damage in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament, they will need Baker to provide scoring off the bench.
Texas will wrap up the regular season on Saturday against Oklahoma State at the Frank Erwin Center. A victory over the Cowboys would put the Longhorns at 20-11 and 10-8 in Big 12 play. Assuming Kansas defeats Texas Tech, the Longhorns would enter the conference tournament as the number 3 seed. Joe Lunardi said tonight immediately following Texas’ victory that as it currently stood, the Longhorns were in his projected NCAA tournament field. A win on Saturday and an additional win in the Big 12 Tournament would go a long way in helping Texas hear their name called on selection Sunday.
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