Texas comeback falls short as Longhorns lose to Red Raiders 68-59

Nathan Han

The Texas offense was anything but pretty in Saturday’s game against Texas Tech.

For the first nine minutes of the second half, the Longhorns didn’t score a field goal until a rare 3-point shot from redshirt sophomore forward Brock Cunningham. The team’s next bucket, a layup from freshman forward Greg Brown, was the Longhorn’s first field goal in the paint in 18 minutes.

“We need to be much, much better on offense,” head coach Shaka Smart said.

Ultimately, the opening second half drought was too much to overcome, as No. 14 Texas fell to No. 18 Texas Tech 68-59 in Lubbock, marking the Longhorns’ second loss this season to the Red Raiders. It was also the fewest points Texas has scored in a game all season.

“The whole game, we were forcing shots,” Smart said. “We weren’t in the flow that we needed to be in, and it obviously caught up with us in the second half.”

The Longhorns’ deficit ballooned to 13 points before the Cunningham 3-pointer. But Texas would slowly claw back, relying on their own stifling defense to come within six points multiple times. 

With 3:22 left, redshirt junior guard Andrew Jones knocked down a 3-pointer off of a Red Raider turnover to bring the Longhorns within three at 59-56. 

But Texas wouldn’t get any closer, as the defense that led Texas on its comeback run let the Longhorns down in the final minutes. The burnt orange squad fouled one too many times to complete the comeback, and with Texas Tech in the bonus, the next nine Red Raider points would come from the free throw line.

Nowhere were the trips to the charity stripe more apparent than in a shooting foul on Texas Tech junior guard Mac McClung’s 3-point shot attempt. McClung, with time running down on the shot clock, pump faked to bring sophomore forward Kai Jones off his feet and launched himself into Jones to draw the foul. 

It was an edge the Red Raiders team, on a three-game losing streak, needed.

“They played like a team that had the gift of desperation,” Smart said. “Especially when you go on the road, you have to match that (and) exceed that if you want to win.”

The intensity for both teams, playing in front of the biggest crowd Texas had seen all season, was sky high from the tip. And in the first half, both teams traded the lead back and forth, with senior guard Matt Coleman landing the final blow before halftime with a thunderous dunk and stepback 3-pointer to silence the rowdy Lubbock crowd and tie the game 33-33.

“I got a little sneaky bounce,” Coleman said. “I was going to lay it up, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m here, let’s just turn it over.’”

Coleman, along with senior forward Jericho Sims, led the offensive charge for the Longhorns in the first half as Andrew Jones sat due to early foul trouble and junior guard Courtney Ramey struggled to get going against the Red Raiders’ length.

Texas fell to 8–6 in Big 12 conference play and will look to bounce back against Iowa State on Tuesday.