It seemed like the Longhorns were bound for another clutch finish. With two and a half minutes left in their game against Villanova on Sunday, junior guard Courtney Ramey buried a 3-pointer to even the score at 57 and bring the Frank Erwin Center to its feet.
But after stifling the Wildcats for much of the second half, No. 17 Texas couldn’t get a stop when it needed it most, falling to No. 12 Villanova 68-64.
“The way we lost this was frustrating,” Ramey said. “We let this game slip away and beat ourselves.”
For a 13-minute stretch in the middle of the second half before the Ramey 3-pointer, the Longhorns held the Wildcats to only 11 points. But Villanova would score 11 more points in the remaining two and a half minutes, including a backbreaking quick 5-0 run out of the timeout.
Ramey would continue to will Texas back into the game, hitting another three to bring the score to 62-60 with 54 seconds left. The junior guard and four-star recruit originally had interest in Villanova, but he chose Texas after guard Jahvon Quinerly committed to the Wildcats.
“I had this game circled from the first time we knew about it,” Ramey said.
Texas needed one stop to get its chance for another game-winner after senior guard Matt Coleman’s clutch basket against North Carolina on Wednesday.
Then, Villanova senior forward Jermaine Samuels pump-faked a Texas defender to the air and scored a layup that would give the Wildcats an all-important two-possession lead.
“Defensively, we didn’t quite do the right thing,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “Samuels had a big drive at the end … we got to make him shoot that. He’s more of a driver than a shooter. Those are things that, as a player, you learn, ‘Man, I got to honor that scouting report and do the right thing.’”
That was the theme of Texas’ day. The Longhorns fouled twice on 3-point shots and had another poor shooting night from 3-point range (7-22).
In the first half, both teams traded the momentum in big runs. Villanova’s size in the backcourt helped the team get off to an early 14-7 lead, but Coleman scored 11 straight points to put the Longhorns up 27-20 with 6:54 left in the half.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright called a quick timeout after Coleman’s one-man run, and the Texas offense would stagnate for the rest of the half while the Wildcats stormed back to take a 32-30 lead into halftime.
Coleman finished the game tied with Ramey as Texas’ leading scorers. Coleman had 17 points on 7-15 shooting, and Ramey had 17 points on 7-11 shooting.
The two guards carried the load for Texas’ offense all game long and had some words with the team in the locker room after the game.
“The fact that we have been around each other for so long, and we know what each person has in them,” Coleman said. “We hold each other accountable.”
Despite the continued poor 3-point shooting, Texas managed to stay in the game against a top-tier opponent in No. 12 Villanova, which started the season ranked No. 3 in the nation and will likely be the Longhorns’ toughest opponent in nonconference play.
“We’ve known since we got back to campus that we were going to be able to compete with anybody,” Coleman said. “But we’re not satisfied. We know we can be better.”