Dogus Balbay

Former Texas point guard Doğuş Balbay was known more for his defense and ability to move the ball than his offense during his three-year tenure with the Longhorns from 2008-2011.

Photo Credit: Caleb Miller | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is part of a weekly series looking back at past Texas athletes and where they are now. This week features former men’s basketball point guard Doğuş Balbay, who played for Texas from 2008-2011.

Doğuş Balbay has always had the same scouting report: He can move the ball well and play strong defense, but he just can’t shoot.

In his three years at Texas from 2008-2011, Balbay never averaged more than 4.2 points per game, despite playing around 20 minutes in nearly each match. Actually, the 6-foot-1 point guard attempted only two long balls in his senior year.

But he always did the little things right for the Longhorns.

“I want to play hard, play defense and help my teammates both offensively and defensively,” Balbay said his sophomore year. “I have to be a leader when I’m on the court, I have to listen to my coach, and I know I need to talk on the court. That’s all I need to do.”

And the experts agreed, as ESPN analyst Jay Bilas named Balbay one of the top-two perimeter defenders in college basketball his junior year.

“Balbay puts the best pressure on the ball of anyone I have seen all season long,” Bilas said. “With his ball pressure, teams have a difficult time running offense against Texas, and Balbay has taken more than one quality point guard out of the game this season.”

Despite a successful career in burnt orange, he didn’t reach his goal.

“My goal was to get drafted,” Balbay said. “But that didn’t work out.”

So, where is he now? Currently, he is in the Turkish league for Anadolu Efes, his hometown team in Istanbul.

“It’s one of the best leagues in Europe — top-3,” Balbay said. “And Efes is one of the best clubs.”

After going undrafted, Efes bought Balbay’s rights and gave him a three-year contract.

In those three years, Balbay made a name for himself. He was named the best defender by the Turkish Basketball Federation and was the runner-up in the 2012 slam dunk contest. He even hit a game-winner with 0.4 seconds left in a Euroleague playoff game.

“There are games I actually score double figures,” Balbay said in reference to his low-scoring college days. “But I’m not the best scorer. I am one of the best defenders, though.”

With his success, he began to get some looks from the NBA summer league. The Philadelphia 76ers were in contact with Balbay and a few other teams were rumored to be trying to see him.

But, Balbay had just signed a two-year guaranteed contract with Efes, preventing him from trying out.

“[The contract] was a big deal,” Balbay said. “It’s my hometown team. In addition, they named me captain of the team this year, and that is a big deal.”

Balbay is three Turkish league games into his first season under the new contract and preparing for the first Euroleague game on Thursday.

But, he’s still just 25-years-old and his ultimate goal is not out of reach yet.

“I’ll try in two years,” Balbay said. “I guess I’m still young.”

You’ve got to feel bad for Gary Johnson.

He just ran out of time. He picked up the 686th and final rebound of his college career, but before any shot could be taken or any foul could be made, the clock showed all zeros.

This wasn’t how things were supposed to end. He couldn’t believe it. His teammates couldn’t believe it.

The leader and heart of the Longhorns will never put on a Texas uniform again.

His four-year career at Texas: done. It went by just like that.

Johnson came in as a freshman full of raw talent. His skills slowly developed. His attitude got better. He became the most-respected player throughout the locker room. The man that each player could go to if needed.

On the court, he always had his head in the game. Off the court, he was a fun, laid-back jokester whether he was spitting some freestyle rhymes or making fun of his Canadian teammates’ accents.

He faced hardships growing up in the Houston area being raised by his grandmother. He was a superstar in high school and competitively recruited.

He got to Texas, but before his freshman season had to sit out the first couple of months because of a severe heart problem that luckily cleared up.

He played as a freshman and was a critical part of the team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 2008. Johnson came off the bench for the majority of his first three seasons. He averaged double figures in points his final three seasons and was among the team’s top rebounders in
those seasons.

This year, he was one of four seniors. Alongside Matt Hill, Dogus Balbay and Jai Lucas, Johnson was a big part of the changed attitude in this year’s Texas team.

Even though Texas only advanced one round further than last year, it was a big leap.

Gary: The Leader

It is no secret that last year’s squad was not together. We all know that some players had their own agenda. The team suffered from it.
This year, the Longhorns were one. From top to bottom, the team got along. No loose bolts.

“He’s the reason we got this thing going,” said J’Covan Brown.

Johnson assumed the role as Texas’ leader. He led by example by always coming early and staying late to work on his shot. He led vocally by coaching his teammates on and off the court.

Sometimes Johnson has a lot to say. Other times, he doesn’t.

But when he doesn’t have much to say, his emotions say so much.

A couple days after Texas’ first Big 12 loss of the season to Nebraska, Johnson was asked by a media member to explain what happened against the Huskers.

“We lost,” Johnson said, still frustrated from the game.

Well, what do you need to do now?

“We got to win,” Johnson said.

It’s that simple. But at the same time, it’s so complex. The way he paused before he chose his words. His facial expression showed how much the loss hurt him.

“If he tells you something, you know it’s some wise wisdom,” said Tristan Thompson.

Gary: The Defender

Johnson took pride in his defensive role this season. Everyone knew he could hit a mid-range jump shot and could post up in the paint.

On the defensive end, Johnson wanted to play similar to Balbay’s lockdown style. He worked hard at it and got much better. With that, he gained confidence in his ability to defend. He started declaring that he would be the one guarding the opposition’s star player. He wanted Kansas’ Morris twins. He wanted Arizona’s Derrick Williams. He even wanted Baylor’s guard LaceDarius Dunn.

“That shows the type of maturity that Gary has in his game,” Thompson said. “He wants to guard the best player. With him being a senior, him being a leader, I can’t say nothing. I’m like, ‘OK, Gary, go take that assignment.’”

Gary: The Future

Johnson was not ready for his college career to end. Fans may remember him for his streaky shots and clutch rebounding. But there won’t be any parade for him. His jersey won’t be retired. He will not be all over Texas record books for years to come — he was six rebounds shy of cracking Texas’ all-time top-10 rebounders.

He will definitely be remembered by his teammates and coaches who have seen him grow and develop throughout his four years at Texas.
Whether he goes on to play professionally remains a question. Don’t expect to see his name on many NBA mock drafts.

“I have learned a lot. I feel like I have grown into a better player,” Johnson said. “So we will see what my future endeavors have to offer.”

You really have to feel bad for Gary Johnson. He shouldn’t have to worry about it yet. He only needed half a second more. He would have made both free throws. Texas would have advanced to the Sweet 16 where they would play Duke in Anaheim.

He just ran out of time.

“It’s part of the game,” Johnson said. “You live with it.”
 

Mens Basketball

Texas has had little difficulty getting off to fast starts in recent games.

Since trailing by as much as 15 points in the first half against Kansas on Jan. 22 and by 11 at halftime of that game, the Longhorns have led entering the second half by an average of 15 points in six games. In all of those contests except the win at Oklahoma State, the Longhorns had early double-digit leads — including a 25-point lead at Texas A&M.

The Longhorns have not been as dominating in the second halves, only winning the second half twice in the last six games.

“I don’t think we have been as sharp mentally in the second half,” said head coach Rick Barnes.

Texas’ struggles in the second half were shown most recently against Baylor on Saturday. The Bears cut an 18-point lead to three late in the game.

“We got to play a hard 40 minutes,” said senior guard Dogus Balbay. “We can’t just play 20, 25 minutes and then sit down and watch.”

A new No. 1?

Kansas was ranked No. 1 for less than 12 hours before getting blown out by in-state rival Kansas State on Monday night.

Barnes didn’t think Kansas should have been No. 1 in the first place.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that Pitt should be the No. 1 team,” Barnes said. “You lose your leading scorer and go in and beat two ranked teams on their court and that’s impressive.”

Pittsburgh beat both West Virginia and Villanova on the road last week without starting point guard Ashton Gibbs.

Others are calling Texas the best team in the country.

Barnes and the Longhorns continue to not worry about rankings. They are more concerned with staying focused for the remainder of the season and into the postseason.

“March is going to be big for us,” Balbay said. “So we got to stay focused. We have been doing great so far so we are just going to keep it up [and] do better.”

Texas is making sure to go through the same routine that they have been following since November.

“There are six or seven weeks left,” Barnes said. “We can’t stop improving right now.”

These Longhorns (21-3) have no respect for records — at least losing ones.

By beating Oklahoma on Wednesday night, they swept the two-game season series against the Sooners for the first time since 2008.

At 9-0 in the Big 12, they are off to their best start in league play since 1977, when they competed in the Southwest Conference. If the Longhorns win Saturday against Baylor at home, they will be off to their best start since 1963.

Another streak will be threatened this weekend: The Bears won their last four versus Texas, dating back to the 2009 Big 12 tournament. That includes three losses last season, two by double digits.

All this talk of breaking records is backed up by the team’s top-ranked defense.

Texas is holding Big 12 opponents to a league-best average of 54 points per game. If that scoring defense holds up through the final seven contests, the Longhorns will finish with 864 points scored against them in conference play, shattering the previous record they set in 2005-06 of 926.

“It’s been our goal, playing great defense,” said Texas guard Dogus Balbay on Wednesday night. “We know we can play defense every night. Shots may not go in every night, but we can play defense every night. We don’t really care what the others say about our defense. We just focus on our stuff — it’s all about us.”

Balbay is a good spokesman for the Texas defense. He doesn’t lead the Big 12 in any major defensive categories — with only 24 steals to his name this year — but he’s been a critical part in stopping opposing teams’ best players.

He was on Marcus Denmon when the Missouri guard scored just seven points in a game at Texas on Jan. 29, and he kept Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page scoreless on Jan. 26. Versus the Sooners, he was an offensive threat as well, scoring 12 points all the while making sure not a single Oklahoma guard scored more than 13.

“Our defense was really, really good to start the game,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes after the win in Norman. “I thought that Dogus and Gary Johnson really did a nice job of getting the starting force on the defensive end.”

Speaking of record breaking, Texas has only given up 181 field goals this Big 12 season and is on pace to finish with just 322 converted against it in the regular season, the fewest in conference history.

“They pressure really well on the defensive end; they get out in the passing lanes and take away angles and things like that,” said Oklahoma guard Cade Davis. “This is probably one of the best defenses I’ve seen Texas [have] since I’ve been here.”

Quite an impressive resume, but Barnes isn’t impressed. He said on Monday that the team can get better on defense. Balbay isn’t reading into the numbers either.

“We’re trying to get better every day on defense,” he said. “We can still get better, I think.”

Baylor is no easy test. The team is third in the conference in scoring defense and possesses a dangerous one-two offensive threat in Perry Jones and LaceDarius Dunn.

With a conference-best 18.1 average margin of victory, Texas is a serious contender for the Big 12 regular season title, which the Longhorns haven’t won outright since 1999.

That’s just one more record ready to be broken. 

The best place to start when holding a team below its scoring average: the best player.

Shutting down opponents’ top scorers has been a major factor in Texas starting Big 12 competition 7-0.
In their seven conference games, the Longhorns’ defense has held top offensive players below their point averages five times, including Marcus Morris — the league’s No. 6 scorer.

Texas also limited Missouri’s Marcus Denmon — who averages 16.7 points per game — to just 7 and held Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton scoreless Monday.

“One thing that we’ve tried to do all year is take away the team’s leading scorer,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes. “When you do that, you’ll have to have a team and people that really help you out
defensively.”

Overall, the Longhorns have held each opposing Big 12 team to roughly 20 points below its average.

That includes two of the NCAA’s top 10 scoring squads in Kansas and Missouri.

Texas’ ability to limit an offense starts with the defense-first mentality that Barnes constantly stresses and his players have responded to all season long.

Prior to an early-season game against Lamar, Texas’ leading scorer Jordan Hamilton spent the entire two practices leading up to the game on the defensive end.

Each player has become so used to defense that it has started to become fun.

“We have no choice,” Hamilton said after Monday’s win over Texas A&M. “When you’re playing with a guy like Dogus Balbay, who can guard anyone in the country, he makes it fun because he has great help defense, and he can guard the ball really well.”

Teammates repeatedly call Balbay the best defender in college basketball. They would know best, having to practice against him every day.

Balbay was responsible for shutting down Oklahoma State’s second-leading scorer Keiton Page on Jan. 26. On Jan. 29, he helped keep Denmon 10 points below his season average as well as limiting Kansas freshman Josh Selby to only four points in Texas’ comeback victory on Jan. 22.

But every player is an important part of the team’s defensive efforts. Cory Joseph makes things hard for opposing point guards and the rest of the team is stepping up as well.

Hamilton was all over Middleton on Monday and helped out with Texas Tech’s leading scorer Mike Singletary, who only scored five points versus Texas. Hamilton also kept Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer Cade Davis to only three points.

At the post, the combination of starters Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson has limited the opposition’s frontcourt. And when those two sit down, reserves Matt Hill and Alexis Wangmene have picked up the slack recently. Wangmene recorded two blocks against the Aggies while Hill grabbed a season-high eight rebounds.

All four big men, although allowing the Morris twins of Kansas to reach near their averages, made them earn every point as they shot a combined eight of 24 from the field.
“They’re just such good athletes, they can pressure the ball, then they have shot blockers in the back,” Texas A&M coach Mike Turgeon said Monday.

Carrying their defensive mindset into this Saturday’s rematch with Tech, which averages 73.7 points per game, the Longhorns face the next step in their quest to shut down the high-scoring offenses of the Big 12.

COLLEGE STATION — As the few Longhorn fans at Reed Arena snuck down to seats directly behind the Texas bench, senior Gary Johnson turned around with a huge smile and responded to the “Texas Fight” cheers that echoed throughout the arena.

The joy of Johnson and other seniors Dogus Balbay and Matt Hill resonated throughout the bench as the No. 3 Longhorns (19-3, 7-0) finally got over the hump and beat No. 16 Texas A&M (17-4, 4-3) on the road for the first time since 2004.

The Longhorns did not trail throughout the entire game as they managed to outplay the Aggies in every facet en route to a 69-49 win.

“I’ve been doing this 24 years, and I haven’t seen as many teams as good as Texas,” said Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. “I thought they were fantastic.”

Texas’ effort once again was led on the defensive side of the ball where the Longhorns held the Aggies to 30 percent shooting from field. In doing so, they did not allow A&M’s leading scorer Khris Middleton to score.

“One thing we tried to do is take away the opposing team’s leading scorer,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes. “When you do that, you are going to have to have a team effort.”

The Aggies were unable to rally at any point. The few times that they did score a field goal, the Longhorns would immediately go down court and score.

Jordan Hamilton, who was also Texas’ leading scorer with 20 points, was responsible for guarding Middleton the majority of the game.

“I said to myself, ‘I’m just going to come out here and try to guard him the hardest I ever guarded someone before,’” Hamilton said. “And I did that tonight.”

In addition, the Longhorns had strong defensive production from Hill, Hamilton, Balbay and Alexis Wangmene, who helped Texas’ leading blocker Tristan Thompson combine for all nine of Texas’ blocked shots.

“Everyone’s following,” Thompson said. “Now when the scouting report comes in, it doesn’t just say, ‘Tristan Thompson blocks shots.’ You got to worry about all the big guys. That gets the offensive players scared that they might get their shots blocked.”

Though only a freshman, Thompson calls himself the “captain” of blocking shots.

“Someone has to lead the block party,” Thompson said.

Despite the Longhorns success in limiting Big 12 opponents to new lows, there is an agreement amongst the team that there is room for improvement.

“We got a long way to go,” Thompson said. “Even though we won this game by a large margin, we still got improvements to make and areas to get better at.”

The Longhorns have become accustomed to winning by large margins. Texas has won its first seven conference games by an average of 18 points.

“I told Rick [Barnes], if they keep working hard and getting better that they can win a national championship,” Turgeon said. “And I don’t say that very much.”

The Longhorns have now defeated four ranked teams in its last five games. After a stretch of two games in three days, Texas finally has some time off before they face Texas Tech on Saturday.

“I need to get some extra sleep and be a student for a little bit,” Thompson said.

All the usual stars showed up for Texas on Monday night — Jordan Hamilton scored a game-high 20 points, Tristan Thompson added 10 points and five boards and Cory Joseph scored 11 — but for the Longhorns to win by 20, it took some atypical contributions from the team’s role players.

Matt Hill, Jai Lucas, J’Covan Brown and Alexis Wangmene all logged significant minutes as other players sat with foul trouble.

“We always trust our bench,” said starting guard Dogus Balbay. “Tonight was one of those nights, you know, they came in and changed the game.”

Hill was first off the bench in both halves. His first touch of the ball was a putback minutes into the game that he immediately followed up with a defensive rebound on the other end.

“What Matt Hill does doesn’t really show up on the stat sheet,” Hamilton said. “He’s a great defender, and he’s a force inside.”

Hill and fellow reserve forward Wangmene helped defend A&M’s David Loubeau, Ray Turner and Keith Davis inside after starters Thompson and Gary Johnson were pulled for accumulating early fouls.

“Matt Hill came in and rebounded his tail off,” Thompson said. “He was really impressive inside and gave their big men a tough time.”

Hill also converted two field goals, including a mid-range jumper, an unusual shot for the 6-foot-10 post player.

“When he hit the little jump shot in the lane,” said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. “It was kind of their night.”

The senior hadn’t played much in recent games — just 11 minutes against Missouri on Saturday and three versus Oklahoma State on Jan. 26. But head coach Rick Barnes turned to him for relief and leadership on Monday and the senior responded with a season-high eight rebounds.

“He’s one of those guys on the offensive end that just keeps things gong,” Barnes said about Hill. “But he came up with some big rebounds on the defensive end.”

Lucas and Brown effectively ran the point when Balbay was out. Brown played 24 minutes, the most he’s played since a Jan. 22 win at Kansas, and scored eight points.

Overall, the Texas reserves outscored their Aggie counterparts 19-10.

“There wasn’t any drop off tonight,” Turgeon said. “I thought Wangmene played well and [Matt] Hill really played well.”

Brown, Lucas and Wangmene all scored during a crucial 14-0 run by Texas halfway through the first period while three starters sat with foul trouble.

The scoring streak helped Texas build a 25-point halftime lead, its largest of the season.

Check Stillwater off as another tough road environment in which Texas thrived.

The seventh-ranked Longhorns (17-3, 5-0 Big 12) remained undefeated in conference play after beating Oklahoma State (14-6, 2-4) 61-46 in another emotional game.

Oklahoma State honored the 10-year anniversary of the plane crash which killed 10 members of the Cowboys’ men’s basketball program in 2001.

With tensions high at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Longhorns held Oklahoma State to 32 percent shooting on Wednesday.

Texas’ defense frustrated the Cowboys throughout the game. Led by Dogus Balbay, the Longhorns limited OSU to its lowest point total of the season.

“I told the team I thought he was the single biggest difference for us with what he did in terms of trying to disrupt things,” said head coach Rick Barnes.

Balbay did not allow Oklahoma State’s second-leading scorer, Keiton Page, to score. On the other end of the court, Balbay scored double-digit points for the second time this season with 10 — all in the first half.

“He is a great example of someone who may not be the best scorer in the world, but he affects the game in a lot of ways,” said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford.

Freshman Tristan Thompson made up for Balbay’s lack of scoring in the second half, where he earned all 14 of his points.

The game went back and forth throughout the first 20 minutes. A Jordan Hamilton 3-pointer with only a second remaining gave the Longhorns a seven-point lead going into the break.

Fresh off the intermission, Hamilton converted on another three-point attempt on the first possession of the second half to extend the lead to 10.

The Longhorns never looked back, and Hamilton finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cowboys were led by forward Marshall Moses who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. J.P. Olukemi added 13 points for the ’Pokes.

The win was the second consecutive for the Longhorns going into a difficult but somber arena. Texas’ win over Kansas last Saturday came just hours after the mother of KU forward Thomas Robinson passed away.

On Wednesday, the families of those who died in the plane crash were in attendance. Former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton and players Desmond Mason and Doug Gottlieb spoke at halftime. Both teams wore T-shirts commemorating the anniversary of the plane crash.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing that Oklahoma State is keeping the memory where it should be, because it was a tragedy, it really is,” Barnes said.

When trying to discern the differences between last year’s team and this one, look no further than Gary Johnson.

After the 7-10 skid to finish 2010, three players left for the NBA. Head coach Rick Barnes decided to install a new, more structured offense to keep players from improvising too much and turned to Johnson for leadership on the court.

Johnson, along with fellow seniors Dogus Balbay and Matt Hill, stepped up, determined not to let this season’s team suffer the same self-destructive fate.

“We knew what the cancer was to the team,” Johnson said about last season. “I think guys had self-identity issues, felt like they could do it all from time to time. That was a big downfall.”

Now Johnson’s most important role is that of field general. He does everything well—third in scoring on the team with 11.8 points per game, third in rebounding, fourth in minutes—but focuses on keeping everyone tuned in to the team’s goals.

“It was imperative for us to concentrate on guys actually getting to know each other more,” he said.

So between cleaning up the boards, scoring on second-chance opportunities and providing a dangerous mid-range threat, Johnson must also concentrate on relaying Barnes’ orders to everyone on the floor.

“He can do everything,” Balbay said. “He can play at the three, he can play at the four. He can get rebounds, he can play defense. He’s a complete player. He’s a leader as well. He’s everything about this team.”

That do-anything mentality began in high school. Playing at Aldine High in northern Houston, Johnson was an all-state forward who led the Mustangs to consecutive state tournaments. At 6-foot-6, Johnson was one of the top power forwards in Texas, but he also practiced as a guard at times—whatever Aldine head coach Ezekiel Smith asked of him.

“When he first came in, he got people to follow him through his actions,” Smith said. “By the time he left he was more of a verbal leader and somebody guys could really follow.”

In one game against Nimitz , Johnson puts those skills to use. With Aldine down by double digits and only about three minutes left in the game, Smith asked Johnson to defend the opposing team’s best guard, who was tearing them up from the perimeter. The tall, lithe Johnson stepped out to guard his much shorter assignment, nearly up at the half-court line.

Johnson shut him out the rest of the game and Aldine won by three.

“He always knew he was going to be a big-time player,” Smith said. “I told him, ‘You’re going to be a big-time ball player. You’ve gotta stay hungry but also keep your humility.’ Now he’s a great player, but he also likes to laugh.”

It’s Johnson’s defense that makes him so valuable to Texas head coach Rick Barnes, but the senior has developed a complex offensive skill set to go along with it. He’s still a force down low and backing up towards the basket, but he’s also accurate from mid-range with a low-arching jumper.

He’s even able to knock down shots from long range: he hit his one and only career 3-pointer last season versus North Carolina in Dallas.
Johnson is 0-for-2 this year from beyond the arc, but hasn’t given up hope on notching another trey.

“This year I’m in a position where I’m on the wing a lot more,” he said. “It’s not my forte, but yeah, I plan to get one.”

But Johnson remains most involved in his leadership role, where he serves as captain and mentor to the younger players.

“He’s helped me a lot. I look up to him as a big brother, personally,” freshman Tristan Thompson said. “You always want someone to push you.”

Against Kansas last Saturday, Johnson missed his first six shots from the field, including a lay-up directly under the basket. But Barnes played him for 32 minutes, second-most on the team, because every time Johnson ran back down the court he was calling out orders to the defense.

It was a proud moment for Johnson and the rest of the Longhorns as they beat Kansas inside Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in program history.

But after four years at Texas, 986 career points and 573 rebounds, Johnson isn’t content to linger on what’s behind the team. That’s not what leaders do.

“It’s important that we concentrate on everything we have to do ahead of us,” he said.

For 40 minutes, Texas made life hard for the nation's leading scorer.

Overtime, however, was Kemba Walker's time.

Walker made a desperate from-the-hip 3-pointer, then nailed the game-winner from about 15 feet with 5 seconds left in overtime Saturday to lift No. 8 Connecticut to a tough 82-81 victory over the No. 12 Longhorns.

"I felt like I owed it to my team," Walker said of his effort in overtime. "I felt like I would get my shot and make it."

Walker, who came in averaging 26.1 points, finished with 22 against Texas on 8-of-27 shooting. He scored seven in overtime. The 3-pointer came with a second left on the shot clock and put the Huskies ahead 80-77.

"I threw it up," Walker said, "and God was on my side."

Texas (12-3) had a final chance to win, but after getting the ball to midcourt and calling timeout, freshman Cory Joseph juggled the inbound pass and misfired a 3-point attempt at the buzzer. Joseph had made the winning shot in the final seconds to beat North Carolina earlier this season.

Alex Oriaki had a career-high 21 rebounds for Connecticut (12-2), which exploited Texas' focus on stopping Walker to score 42 points in the paint. The Huskies also ended the Longhorns' 27-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents.

Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown each scored 20 points to lead five Texas players in double figures. Hamilton had given the Longhorns the lead before Walker's game winner.

Guard Dogus Balbay, so effective in the defensive effort on Walker in regulation, said he was hesitant to contest the winning shot because he was called for a foul against Walker on the previous play. He got a hand up but Walker shot over him.

"I tried my best and he hit it," Balbay said.

UConn blew a chance to win the game in regulation. Oriaki blocked a shot by Texas' Gary Johnson and Roscoe Smith grabbed the rebound with about 11 seconds left. Instead of holding the ball for a final shot, Smith launched a wild crosscourt shot that sailed over the backboard and into the Texas pep band.

That gave the Longhorns the ball back with 7.5 seconds to play, but Brown missed to send the game into overtime.

"It was just a mistake," UConn's Shabazz Napier said. "Everyone said, 'Oh God, Roscoe.'"

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun called the win the Huskies' best of the season.

"Yeah, we've beaten Michigan State and Kentucky," Calhoun said. "(But) we held our own on the boards and we scrapped our way through it. What a terrific game."

With Texas focused on stopping Walker, the Huskies had plenty of easy looks at shots close the basket. The Huskies shot just 38 percent for the game but grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and scored 24 second-chance points.

"In my mind, I keep playing through the easy ones they got," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Defensively we did some good things ... but when you give up 23 offensive rebounds, you can't feel good about that."

Texas held Walker scoreless for the first 17 minutes and led by as many as nine points late in the first half. Connecticut rallied in the second behind more strong play inside and Napier's three 3-pointers.

And Walker, as frustrated as he was in the first half, kept working for his shot.

Connecticut held its biggest lead at 68-59 in the second half when Walker finished a slashing layup and Napier made a 3-pointer.

"Kemba Walker is Kemba Walker and he's going to make a play," Calhoun said.

Texas fought back to cut the lead to 70-69 on Tristan Thompson's bank shot with 2:36 to play. Hamilton blew a dunk on a fast break, but the Longhorns grabbed the lead on Brown's short jumper before the teams ended regulation tied at 73.

When it came down to the final seconds of overtime, there was little doubt the ball would be in Walker's hands.

"I've seen that shot so many times," Calhoun said. "You can go through a whole game and Kemba is about winning, and that was just a big-time win."