It was a movie that many Texas and Oklahoma State fans have seen before — but the sequel reversed the roles.
On Jan. 13 in Stillwater, Texas led Oklahoma State by double digits in the second half, but a late Cowboys’ run swung the entire momentum of the game. On the final shot of the game, Oklahoma State claimed an unlikely 65-64 victory.
Down 64-63 as the seconds dwindled down on Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center, Texas junior shooting guard Kerwin Roach II navigated around the court, then crossed over on a dime and pursued the basket driving down the left side of the hardwood. A potential shot-blocker, Oklahoma State power forward Mitchell Solomon, stood in his way. Roach switched to the right hand mid-air to avoid Solomon and finished with an acrobatic, buzzer-beating layup with 1.2 seconds left.
Against all odds, Texas escaped a dramatic afternoon with an identical 65-64 victory.
“Coach just believed in me to go ahead and play and get the winning bucket,” Roach said. “At one point, I thought I (had to give it up), but I just wanted to see what I could do.”
Kerwin Roach for the win! Texas defeats Oklahoma State in wild thriller, 65-64. Daily Texan postgame breakdown: https://t.co/WMsdeuSvGO— Daily Texan Sports (@texansports) February 24, 2018
The Longhorns’ bizarre win over Oklahoma State on Saturday can best be described as a pitch-black indoor roller coaster. Right when it seemed as if the Longhorns (17–12, 7–9 Big 12) would plummet into the ground, a launch of momentum would springboard them right back into the game. But at the final buzzer, Texas rose out of a freefall, gaining enough energy to claim its 17th win.
“In a lot of ways, it was the opposite of what happened at their place,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “Our guys did a good job of staying together down the stretch. We had some different lineups in there that we hadn’t played a lot this year, and we just were able to make one more play.”
Texas came out flat at the beginning of each half. The Longhorns didn’t register their first field goal of the game until the 15:01 mark of the first half. Texas eventually rallied to lead by eight points, but an Oklahoma State three at the first-half buzzer to make the score 33-28 sparked the start of a dominant Cowboys’ run.
Texas’ second half somehow started worse. Freshman forward Jericho Sims’ free throws with 16:34 left were the team’s first points of the half, but Texas’ first field goal didn’t even occur until junior power forward Dylan Osetkowski scored on a post move with 13:07 left. During those seven minutes, Oklahoma State spurred a 17-2 run to secure a lead as great as 10 points.
“To start the second half, there was one stretch of the game where the spirit got away from us,” Smart said. “We didn’t have the same energy and they were able to get on a run. When they got up 10, we fought back and guys made plays.”
But after all of the energy had seemingly drained, Texas recovered once more. With the absence of freshman center Mo Bamba (toe injury) in the second half, unlikely heroes, including Sims and sophomore shooting guard Jacob Young, helped claw Texas back to tie the game. A jumper by freshman point guard Matt Coleman vaulted the Longhorns ahead with 3:09 left.
“Stepping up is just my role,” Young said. “I have to step up because Andrew’s not here, Mo is out, Eric Davis is out. They basically just picked me up and allowed me to do that.”
The final 100 seconds ushered in six lead changes, as the two teams traded floaters and close jumpers to steal one-point leads from each other. Oklahoma State point guard Kendall Smith converted go-ahead shots on back-to-back possessions, including one to lift the Cowboys ahead, 64-63, with 22 seconds left.
But a determined Roach provided closing duties. Despite his 4-for-14 day from the floor, Roach didn’t waver as he converted a game-winner for the ages, turning the Erwin Center from a silent house into a grounds for celebration in the Longhorns’ penultimate home game of the season.