Coming off an emotional win in Morgantown over the weekend to begin Big 12 play at 4-0, Texas had plenty of momentum as they hosted Texas Tech at the Erwin Center on Wednesday night. The Longhorns came out strong, using a big first half to build up a 10-point halftime lead. The Red Raiders ultimately came alive though behind the hot shooting of Matt McClung, who made several big buckets down the stretch to allow Texas Tech to erase the deficit and hand Texas their first Big 12 loss, 79-77.
The Longhorns received another huge game from their backcourt, led by Andrew Jones who took over the game at certain points during the first half. Jones finished with a team high 20 points. Courtney Ramey (15 points) and Matt Coleman (13 points) also turned in solid performances. Jones, Ramey and Coleman combined to go 11 of 20 from beyond the arc in a game where Texas shot the ball very well against a Texas Tech team known for their defense. Jericho Sims continued to put his early season struggles behind him by collecting 16 points and 5 rebounds, but missed a pair of free throws late in the game with the Longhorns up 77-75. The Red Raiders took advantage by stealing the inbounds pass the next Texas possession and converting a layup. Following a missed jumper from Matt Coleman, Mac McClung connected on the game-winning jumper with 3 seconds remaining.
While Texas shot the ball very well from beyond the arc (52%) and won the rebounds battle (42 to 36), the Longhorns did not have a good night at the free throw line (58%) and had a key turnover late. The loss drops Texas to 10-2 on the reason and 4-1 in Big 12 play, while the Red Raiders improve to 11-3 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12.
After being 3-0 in games decided by 3 points or less to start the season, Texas dropped their first close game of the year tonight. Shaka Smart has to be frustrated considering the Longhorns appeared to control the game throughout before Mac McClung took over late. The biggest takeaway for Texas is probably that they need to get the ball in the hands of Andrew Jones more. Jones was on the fire in the first half but disappeared for long stretches during the second half. He is the best scorer Texas has right now and the Longhorns did not do a great job of getting the ball in his hands down the stretch.
The second biggest takeaway is that the loss does not change much big picture wise for Texas. They are still one of the best teams in a very good conference, and they are still very much alive for a Big 12 title. Texas still has a handful of very difficult games left and will have plenty of opportunities to add to their resume.
The Longhorns will return to action on Saturday when they welcome Kansas State to Austin. Tip off is at 7 PM and the game will be broadcasted on LHN.
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