A struggling Texas offense appeared fixed on Tuesday night. The ball moved, shots fell and the Longhorns looked well on their way to a win.
But when a 13-point lead disappeared, the offense stagnated, and the game went to overtime. The Longhorns turned to their 6-foot-1-inch junior guard who has put them on their back over the last two weeks.
Isaiah Taylor couldn’t score the game winner on Saturday at TCU but scored five of his game-high 28 points in overtime to help push Texas to a 94-91 win over No. 17 Iowa State at the Frank Erwin Center.
“[Head coach Shaka Smart] really just focuses on response,” Taylor said. “I think that’s what me and my team did today.”
The Longhorns led 63-50 with 13:51 left to play, but that lead evaporated as Iowa State climbed its way back to tie the game at 79-79 with 4:09 left to play. Even after Taylor and senior forward Connor Lammert hit back-to-back threes to put Texas up six with under three minutes left, Iowa State wouldn’t go away.
Cyclones senior forward Georges Niang hit a jumper with 28 seconds left to tie the game at 87-87, and Taylor couldn’t draw a foul on the other end, forcing overtime.
“When we got a lead, they came all the way back, but our guys didn’t drop their heads, and they didn’t get disconnected,” Smart said.
After a jumper by senior guard Javan Felix began overtime, Taylor’s last five points pushed Texas over the edge. Taylor made 1-of-2 free throws to put Texas up 94-91 with 22 seconds left.
“When all our shooters are hitting shots, it makes it a lot easier on me,” Taylor said.
The Cyclones missed a three at the other end, and Niang missed one final attempt to try and send the game into a second overtime.
“When plays don’t go our way, when we don’t get calls, [Smart] just makes us focus on things we can control,” Lammert said. “Not the refs, not the crowd, whether shots go in or not. It’s easier to respond when we focus on things we can control.”
Texas’ first points of the game came on a 3-pointer from Lammert, and it didn’t stop there. The Longhorns knocked down 13-of-31 3-pointers and shot 48.6 percent from the field, offsetting a 54.3 percent shooting night from Iowa State.
It was a stark contrast to Texas’ loss at TCU on Saturday, when the Longhorns shot 37.1 percent from the field. Smart said he made it clear that Saturday wasn’t who Texas is.
“They understood that what we did up at TCU was not acceptable for the standards that we have in this program and what we’re trying to create in this program,” Smart said. “But our guys want to win.”