Not the first, not the second, but the third time’s the charm.
Trailing Texas by just one point with 23 ticks on the clock, Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll drove to the basket for a right-handed layup. The shot swirled out of the rim and landed in the hands of the Cowboys’ Tavarius Shine after he relentlessly pursued the ball.
Oklahoma State’s second opportunity at a game-winning shot bricked off the iron, but Yankuba Sima flew in from the 3-point line and tipped the ball in with eight seconds left before either team could come down with a key rebound.
It took three chances for Oklahoma State to sink the game-winning bucket, but the Cowboys’ intense finish gave them a 65-64 win over the Longhorns in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the closely contested final minute, the Longhorns held a safe lead that was quickly diminished in the last few minutes.
With 5:55 remaining, freshman guard Matt Coleman’s free throw put Texas ahead 62-50. But with the home crowd at Gallagher-Iba Arena on their side, the Cowboys drained a slew of free throws and shot lights out on their jumpers to pull ahead, using a 13-0 run in less than three minutes of clock time.
Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski drained Texas’ last field goal of the game on a driving bankshot down the right side of the court. But the Longhorns hit another shot. Unfortunately for Shaka Smart’s team, it didn’t count.
With under 30 seconds to go and a one-point lead, Coleman fired down the lane and shot one of his signature floaters — a move he previously hit a game-winning shot with against Tennessee State. But Oklahoma State clogged the lane with several stationary defenders, one of which positioned himself right in front of Coleman.
The referees issued a charging foul. Instead of a three-point lead, Texas turned the ball over to the Cowboys for an opportunity at the final shot.
Oklahoma State struck gold on Sima’s tip-in. Texas had under eight seconds to respond with a game-winner, but Oklahoma State poked the ball out of Coleman’s hands and the Longhorns’ final shot was reduced to an off-balance, desperation heave from beyond the arc by sophomore guard Jacob Young. The buzzer sounded as the attempt bounced off the rim.
Before that final sequence, Texas played solid defense on the Cowboys’ prior attempts at a game-winner. One of Sima’s previous layups ended in a rejection by Wooden Award watch list member and freshman center Mo Bamba. After being shut down in the opening 20 minutes, Bamba played like a man possessed in the second half. His 11 second-half points, complemented by 10 rebounds and two blocks, propelled Texas throughout the afternoon. But the team still couldn’t escape with a much-needed conference win.
Prior to Bamba’s offensive arrival, the hero of the game was Eric Davis Jr. The junior guard finished the opening half with 15 of his 18 points. He drained 4-of-5 3-pointers and sparked the Longhorns’ offense — a significant reason Texas entered halftime ahead 32-25.
Bamba and Davis played stout individual games, but Texas’ tight rotation — which featured just seven players — ultimately hurt the team down the stretch in the second half. The Longhorns were without sophomore guard Andrew Jones, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and junior guard Kerwin Roach II, who is out with a fractured left hand.
For a team that appears to be on the fringe of a NCAA Tournament selection, Texas (11–6, 2–3 Big 12) needs every win it can get, and a road loss to Oklahoma State certainly won’t help when almost every Big 12 matchup is a tough battle. Smart and the Longhorns will return home on Wednesday night against No. 8 Texas Tech.