HOUSTON — For 37 minutes, the Longhorns looked like they were going to finally pick up a win over a quality opponent.
They led UCLA by eight points, 61-53, with less than three minutes to play but fell apart down the stretch. Javan Felix committed two key turnovers, the Bruins' Jordan Adams converted two crucial three-point plays and Jonathan Holmes missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer as Texas fell to UCLA, 65-63, Saturday at Reliant Stadium.
"I thought we gave the game away," head coach Rick Barnes said. "We broke down a couple different times. I can't tell you why a couple guys didn't go where they weren't supposed to go. I can't tell you why we made some of the decisons we made. It's just execution."
The Bruins used an 8-0 run, fueled by a pair of three-point plays from Adams, to tie the game at 61-61. Texas came in among the nation's leaders in turnovers but committed only two in the first half. But, with the Longhorns up by six, UCLA's Kyle Anderson picked Felix's pocket, taking it from behind and an offensive rebound led to Adams' first three-point play.
"We didn't execute down the stretch," Felix said. "We did a good job of handling that pressure in the first half and handling that zone. It's just a matter of us executing down the stretch, that's all. Part of that is my fault because I had those two turnovers but that's something that just can't happen. And I have to get better at that."
After coming off the bench in his last five games, Sheldon McClellan got his first start in nearly four weeks. McCellan, the team's leading scorer, couldn't find a rhyhtm, scoring 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting and missing a layup following Adams' first three-point play. On the following possession, Adams grabbed an offensive rebound over Julien Lewis and earned another three-point play opportunity.
"I thought that was the play of the game," Barnes said.
Lewis had a different take on the play.
"He pushed me in the back, which made me fall, and he got the offensive rebound over me," Lewis recalled. "I was like, 'Ref, you gotta see that.' He told me, 'That was my fault. I didn't see that.' I told him, 'It's too late. You missed the play.'"
Lewis was called for a foul and Adams tied the game at 61-61 with the ensuing free throw. Felix committed the last of his team-high four turnovers, which led to Shabazz Muhammad to hit one of two free throws and give the Bruins a 62-61 advantage, their first lead in more than 10 minutes.
Felix missed a floater in the lane and Anderson's layup in transition gave UCLA a 64-61 lead with 25 seconds remaining. A glaring lack of a sense of urgency on the next possession, followed by an off-balance jumper by Holmes, trimmed that lead to 64-63 — but with only six seconds left.
"Up eight with a lead like that, you just don't understand what you're going to get out of that," Lewis said. "I was just so surprised that we lost that game. We still had a chance to win that game but we just didn't make plays at the end."
Adams was quickly fouled and made the front end of a 1-on-1 before missing the second free throw. Down 65-63, Texas had 6.3 seconds to get a decent shot off. Instead, Holmes grabbed the rebound and missed a long three-pointer as time expired.
"We were running a play for me or Sheldon to come off dribble drive and one of us to pull up," Lewis said. "But Jonathan didn't read it correctly, I guess. He thought he had a good shot. And I can't get mad at him, because he's my teammate. He thought he had the shot so he should take the shot."
Holmes, who scored six points in 16 minutes of the loss to UCLA, has made 14 percent of his three-point attempts this year, going 2-for-14 from beyond the arc. Lewis and McClellan are shooting 38.5 and 36.6 percent from three-point range this season, respecitvely.
"It was a broken play at the end," McClellan said. "You have to take care of the ball. I was getting face-guarded. We had two missed layups. you just have to make some plays."
Texas wasted a great effort from Cameron Ridley, who scored 14 points and recorded 10 rebounds, both game-highs, while recording his first career double-double.