The No. 4 Texas men’s basketball team suffered its first conference loss of the season as the No.15-ranked Red Raiders defeated the Longhorns 79-77 Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.
Texas held a commanding lead throughout most of the game, but the Red Raiders hung tough and went on a 6-0 run over the final minute. Texas Tech’s ferocious comeback was capped off by junior guard Mac McClung’s step-back jumper with three seconds remaining over junior guard Courtney Ramey to break a 77-77 tie.
Senior guard Matt Coleman, who has made countless game-winning shots in his Texas career, missed a desperate 3-point attempt as time expired.
“We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch,” Coleman said. “It was a couple of things that could’ve been avoided for us in order to not have the ending that it had.”
The Longhorns committed multiple errors in the second half, which ultimately cost them the game.
Ramey missed a breakaway layup that Texas Tech capitalized on by making a 3-pointer to take their first lead of the game since 17:52 in the first half. The Longhorns, reeling from the shock of a blown lead, went on a several-minute cold streak before freshman forward Greg Brown drilled multiple threes to retake the lead.
Nursing a two-point lead with 44 seconds remaining, Ramey once again gave Texas Tech momentum after turning the ball over on an inbounds pass, which allowed the Red Raiders to tie the game.
“The only way teams can beat us is if we beat ourselves,” Ramey said. “There’s a lot of things that I can go back and just learn from, and I feel like the whole team can.”
Ramey put much of the blame for tonight’s loss on his shoulders, but not before Coleman rushed to his defense, even standing behind Ramey during his postgame press conference.
“Don’t let this one game define you as a player” Coleman said, referring to Ramey. “He’s a competitor. I don’t think anybody else would take it as hard on the chest as him just because of how hard he wants to win.”
Tonight’s loss stings even more considering Texas seemed to have the game under control.
The Longhorns were rolling in the first half, shooting the ball well and playing tight defense down low, taking a 10-point lead into the half. At times the game was played with so much physicality it resembled an NCAA Tournament slugfest, not an early January game.
“I just think that's like the Big 12 for you, just as conference basketball. Two high-level teams, two well-coached teams,” Coleman said. “This is what you come to college for.”
Head coach Shaka Smart said his team didn’t play with the same offensive flow they did in the first half, and that Texas Tech did a good job capitalizing on their turnovers.
“Yeah, it hurts a lot,” Smart said. “But you have to be a big boy, first of all as a coach and then as a player. These games in the Big 12 are really, really intense, and they have a lot of chapters to them.”
Smart said there’s a lot his team can take from this game in order to learn and improve going forward. Tight games like tonight are important to remember because you can use the scenes of the opposing team celebrating as motivation to improve, Smart said.
“I know that we can actually take a really good lesson from tonight,” Smart said. “You do feel devastated after a game like this, and you just have to quickly turn the page."