Sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. has not had an ideal season for a player that showed so much promise in his freshman campaign.
But if the past three games have been any indication, Davis has hit his stride, especially from behind the three-point line. Davis once again found magic with 29 seconds to play Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.
Davis received a pass in the corner with Texas and Texas Tech deadlocked at 58. And with zero hesitation, Davis drilled a three-pointer to give the Longhorns the lead and ultimately a 62-58 victory for a struggling Texas squad.
“I just really try to hunt good (shots) but still be aggressive at the same time,” Davis said. “I just stepped up and knocked it down, and I had confidence.”
Davis finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 field goals. Freshman forward Jarrett Allen came alive with 19 points of his own and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Andrew Jones had 11 points and seven assists.
After blowing an 11-point lead in the second half, Texas collected itself and took the lead at 58-57 with 1:27 to play thanks to an acrobatic layup from Davis in the lane. Texas Tech senior forward Anthony Livingston was fouled on the other end. After airballing the first free throw, he nailed the second to tie the game at 58 with under a minute to play.
“You can’t play out of avoidance,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “You can’t play out of worry that it might not go your way. You got to attack.”
Texas Tech took a 22-14 lead with 6:16 left in the first half. Texas finally found its mark from beyond the arc and took control of the game in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the first half. The Longhorns used an 11-2 run to close out the half.
Allen hit a pair of free throws. Then Davis, Jones and freshman guard Jacob Young each knocked down threes to bring the crowd back to life.
A huge block in the lane by freshman forward James Banks on the other end ensured a 28-26 lead for the Longhorns heading into the locker room.
The Longhorns began the second half just like they ended the first. Texas opened the half on a 13-4 run in the first five minutes to take a 41-30 lead. A three by Jones ended the run, leading to another loud explosion from the home crowd, forcing the Red Raiders to call a timeout.
“These types of games are fun,” Davis said. “This is what you come to college for.”
Texas Tech did not go away, however, and inched closer to Texas with a three-pointer from senior forward Anthony Livingston, which cut the deficit to 50-48 with 7:29 left to play. Five-straight points from junior guard Niem Stevenson gave the Red Raiders their first lead of the second half at 53-50 with 6:14 left.
“Coach always tell us this game is a game of runs,” Jones said. “We just had to respond and get back on track.”
The Longhorns didn’t let the game slip away like they have so often this season and kept things close. Allen’s layup with 2:58 left to play cut Texas Tech’s lead to 57-56.
The Longhorns’ next stop on the schedule is Fort Worth on Saturday against TCU. Texas lost a nail-biter to the Horned Frogs in Austin on Jan. 11, 64-61.