A contest that saw 11 ties and 20 lead changes fittingly came down to the final possession after No. 22 Kansas State (14-5, 4-2 Big 12) tied the game on a jumper from Shane Southwell with five seconds left. The Longhorns got the ball across halfcourt before calling timeout with three seconds left.
The Longhorns called a play that had Javan Felix rubbing off a pick from Jonathan Holmes and Holmes running to the basket. It worked, with Holmes wide open under the bucket for a layup, except that in-bounder Isaiah Taylor missed Holmes. Instead, he passed in to Demarcus Holland, who quickly called timeout with 1.9 seconds left.
Given another shot at it, Texas again called a pick play, this time with Holmes screening Felix's man before darting to the corner. Felix found Holmes this time, with the junior forward able to get off his shot over Kansas State's Thomas Gipson. It dropped cleanly through the net, giving the Longhorns their fourth win in a row.
"The first time we ran it, it was going to be a lollipop pass for Javan, which means I was going to screen and he was going to come back and try to get open in the corner, but Demarcus (Holland) called timeout," Holmes said. "So, I knew since they were worried about Javan, my man was going to go with him, so I just slipped to the ball and I was open and made the shot."
Felix scored 23 points for the Longhorns, including a huge fadeaway jumper with 58 seconds left to put Texas up 64-60. But he also had a chance to seal it when he went to the line with 11 seconds remaining, up 64-62. He missed both shots, setting up Southwell's runner.
"Coach tells us that when we step on the court, we feel like we can beat anybody and play with anybody," Felix said. "We definitely feel like that because we worked very hard during the week in practice, and just the way we approach the game. Whether it is in film, going over scouting reports, walking through plays, we just try really hard at everything. You know, that has been the main focus for us in conference."
Cameron Ridley continued his strong play, scoring 18 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots in 26 minutes before fouling out late. Holmes finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, while Holland did an excellent job of feeding the post with six assists to one turnover.
Gipson led all scorers with 24 points, and he grabbed five rebounds. Southwell had 13 points.
The win moves Texas into a tie for second-place in the Big 12 standings with Kansas State behind a 5-0 Kansas team. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (each 3-2) sit a half-game behind the Longhorns and WIldcats.
"I think we've been a good team from day one," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I go back to our non-league games, we were in so many games like this and the guys have shown character. It's obvious we have guys that are getting better. I don't think there is one guy on our team that hasn't improved, but there is a long way to go. I told our guys it's simple. There are six teams in the Big 12 ranked in the AP Top 25, and we're not one of them. If you don't think this was important, you better think long and hard about it.
"I do think we have a confident group of guys, and I do love them, but my expectations for them are higher than theirs," Barnes said. "I want them to have the same expectations that we do as a coaching staff."
Barnes might have undersold his team's expectation level, as Holmes said the Longhorns felt like they could win the Big 12.
"Yes, I mean that is what we are playing for right now," Holmes said. "I mean, this time last year we were 1-5 right now, or 0-5 or something like that, but right now we have put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. So, we are taking it one game at a time, and like I said we are playing a good Baylor team this Saturday, so that's what our focus is on right now."
Texas (15-4, 4-2) will travel to Baylor to take on the Bears at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday.