The Longhorns trailed for the entire second half but found themselves down just two with the ball after Pitt's Travon Woodall missed the front end of a one-and-one. Texas freshman guard Cory Joseph, who knocked in a clutch floater in the Longhorns' victory over Illinois just one night before, again barreled into the lane looking for an opening.
This time, he didn't find it, managing only an off-balance flip around the basket, missing the hoop entirely and hoping that a Longhorn could come up with a scrap bucket. After the ball was batted around, the Panthers picked it up instead, sealing a close win.
That the Longhorns were still there was a testament to their character. The Panthers went into halftime with a 31-28 lead and spent the second half pushing the lead up to where it appeared they might run away with it. But the Longhorns clawed back each time, braving a sublime performance by Panther junior guard Ashton Gibbs to get there.
After Texas used a 10-2 burst to cut the lead to 39-38, Gibbs went off, scoring the Panthers' next 10 points. But his most important baskets came late. When Texas cut the lead to 63-62, Gibbs drained a three-pointer to up that margin to four points. When Texas scored again, Gibbs found himself at the free throw line with 23 seconds left, needing a pair of freebies to push the lead back to a two-possession game. He sank both shots for a 68-64 lead.
But the Longhorns weren't out. Jordan Hamilton scored on a tip-in, the final two points of his career-high 28 on the night, and Texas again trailed by two at 68-66. That set up the game's final sequence with the Woodall miss and the errant Joseph shot.
Illinois beat Maryland 80-76 in the consolation game.
The Longhorns (3-1) will next face Sam Houston State on Tuesday.