One overtime wasn’t enough. Sheldon McClellan made sure two overtimes would be.
The Longhorns had blown plenty of second-half leads and played in three other overtime games this season, losing all three.
But, with Myck Kabongo suiting up for the first time all year and Jonathan Holmes playing for the first time in three weeks, it was supposed to be different.
And it was. Texas took the same Iowa State squad that pummeled it by 20 points last month to overtime, thanks to a 25-footer from Ioannis Papapetrou with 1.7 seconds left in regulation.
“To tell you the truth, I felt it,” Papapetrou said. “Every time you shoot the ball, you want it to go in. I could feel it going in.”
When Kabongo and Holmes both fouled out in the first overtime period, however, the same group that had squandered so many wins before was charged with the responsibility of hanging on against the Cyclones.
“Maybe that was the best part of it,” head coach Rick Barnes said after the thrilling victory.
Texas and Iowa State remained tied after the first five extra minutes. Then McClellan took over, scoring all 10 of the Longhorns’ points in the second overtime period, propelling the Longhorns past the Cyclones, 89-86 on Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.
“That was a hard fought game for a season opener,” Barnes joked. “There was a lot of guys in that game that showed a lot of individual toughness. It was a great win for us.”
McClellan, who scored just eight of his 18 points before the final five minutes of the game, would not be denied. His layup tied the game at 81, then two more free throws from him tied it at 83. His four free throws in the final minute — getting the last two after stealing an Iowa State in-bounds pass — sealed the three-point triumph.
“I was just being aggressive,” McClellan said. “The offense got kind of stagnant. Coach [Barnes] told me to drive the ball and that’s what I did. Coach always talks about effort, mainly with me. I just wanted to give him more effort tonight. That’s what I did.”
Kabongo was solid, scoring 13 points and dishing out seven assists in 35 minutes. Holmes committed three first-half fouls and played just 18 minutes.
“It’s not about me,” Kabongo, who didn’t answer any questions, said. “It’s a great team win. We just have to keep moving forward. We’re 1-0 with our full team. It’s all about them. I’m thankful to the University of Texas and everyone that has been supporting our team.”
Having Kabongo and Holmes back was nice. But it was the return of McClellan’s determination to attack the basket and draw fouls in the second overtime that put Texas over the top.