Texas Hooks Hogs Late

AUSTIN, Texas — Charles Thomas lifted his cardinal Arkansas jersey above his eyes, shielding anger and hiding disappointment.

Walking off the Frank Erwin Special Events Center court, seconds after an 80-76 loss Wednesday night to Texas, Thomas couldn't stop grimacing.

"I'm very disappointed. I feel bad," Thomas said. "I hate losing. Somebody has to lose, and I just hate that it had to be us."

Thomas' disgust stemmed from the hurt caused by a game that could've resulted in an Arkansas victory if several things had happened differently.

The Hogs (8-3) blew leads of five and six points in the second half. Gary Ervin, with a chance to tie the game as 11,936 fans screamed and stomped, missed two free throws with 5.8 seconds left. Arkansas converted just 10 of its 20 free-throw attempts.

And, most importantly, Arkansas couldn't stop freshman Kevin Durant, who posted game-highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Longhorns (8-2).

"He's just so skilled," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "At (6-foot-9), he can go inside, he can go outside, he can go off the dribble and he's got great touch. He can get a shot any time he wants to get it."

For most of the second half, Durant's play mirrored Heath's description. And that success by Durant allowed Texas' Justin Mason to make the game-winning play.

The Razorbacks took a 76-75 lead with 22.1 seconds left on Sonny Weems' made shot off an inbounds lob pass from Ervin.

Rightfully so, most expected Texas to go to Durant following a timeout.

"The previous possessions, it was the Kevin Durant (isolation) Show, and we didn't have an answer for that one," Heath said. "So we went to a zone."

Mason took advantage, slicing through the Arkansas zone for a layup and getting fouled by Weems. His free throw gave Texas a two-point lead, and Ervin would miss his free throws moments later following a strong move to the bucket.

The way Arkansas played early, the fact that Texas needed Mason's heroics was surprising.

A dismal start plagued the Razorbacks for a second straight game. The Hogs converted only five of their first 17 shot attempts, including just 1 of 8 from 3-point range.

Texas led 21-11 with 11 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half. But, with the help of Thomas and freshman Patrick Beverley, the Hogs inched back into the contest.

Heath said the response impressed him.

"We're on the road in a hostile environment and got down by 10 early in the game, but didn't panic," Heath said.

Simply put, Arkansas would have gotten blown out without Thomas or Beverley, who both ended up with a team-high 19 points each.

The duo combined for 23 of the Hogs' 37 points and 12 of their 17 rebounds in the first half. Thomas scored on a variety of moves, driving for left-handed layups on several occasions. Beverley, in snagging six offensive rebounds, continued to show the consistent tenacity he has brought to the court in every game this season.

Ultimately, it wasn't enough.

But Thomas said the Hogs could take positives from their third loss this season to a Big 12 opponent.

"We didn't get the win and we really didn't want a moral victory, but at the same time, a lot of good came out of this, as well," Thomas said. "Everybody just stepped up, and my whole team really grew up tonight."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories