It was a long way to go for a 6-foot-10, 285-pound player.
But, with less than one second left, Texas center Cameron Ridley went all the way down to his ankles to retrieve a lose ball following a Jonathan Holmes brick, then came all the way back up with it, floating it just past a swinging Jordan Bachynski hand, kissing it off the glass and in.
For much of the game, a buzzer-beater didn't seem necessary. Texas comfortably climbed out to a 61-47 second-half advantage and appeared to have all the answers for an Arizona State team making its first NCAA appearance since 2009.
But Arizona State cut that lead to two at 66-64 with 8:15 left, following a 17-5 run, and the game was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way. The Sun Devils tied the game at 80 with 3:18 left and actually took a one-point lead on a Bachynski free throw with 2:20 remaining. That's when Texas went to work on the offensive glass. A scrappy play around the rim by Ridley put Texas up 82-81, then after a Bachynski dunk, Jonathan Holmes used an offensive rebound to get an and-one, making the free throw to put Texas up 85-83 with 32 seconds left.
Then it was Arizona State's turn for a big play on the boards. After Jermaine Marshall missed a three-pointer, forward Jonathan Gilling grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by Holmes to prevent an easy bucket. He made both free throws with 16 seconds left, giving Texas the final attempt.
That's when Ridley, grabbing his 12th rebound and scoring his 16th and 17th points of the night, sent the Longhorns through to the next round. He added four blocks and a steal in 30 minutes.
Texas was helped by big nights from Martez Walker (16 points) and Demarcus Holland (14) on a combined 9-of-10 from the field. Holland chipped in three steals. Other starters Holmes, Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix all scored 11 points apiece, with Taylor dishing out six assists.
Both Texas and Arizona State entered the game in the nation's top 35 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, though neither team was able to string together several defensive stops often. Texas had a hot-shooting first half and averaged an amazing 1.24 points per possession on the night. The Sun Devils weren't far behind at 1.21. For comparison's sake, the nation's top offense, Creighton, averages 1.214 points per possession on the year.
The Sun Devils actually claimed a slight rebounding victory, 32-31, and were aided by an 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) night from three. Bachynski scored 25 points and had seven rebounds, though he only had one block despite coming in as one of the nation's top shot-blockers. Jahii Carson scored 19 points and dished out nine assists, but committed six turnovers. Jermaine Marshall (17) and Gilling (15) also had nice scoring outings for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State will end the season at 21-12.
The amazing thing about Texas's six buzzer beaters (defined here as a game-tying or winning shot in the final 10 seconds of a game)? They've come from five different players, including Holmes (2), Papapetrou, Kabongo, Felix and now Ridley. Felix canned a three to oust Temple earlier this season, while Holmes buried a three to beat Kansas State.
Texas (24-10) will move on to play the Midwest's No. 2 seed, the Michigan Wolverines. The Big 10 regular season champ, Michigan (26-8, 15-3 Big 10) blasted Wofford 57-40 in the early-evening game at Milwaukee's Bradley Center on Thursday. The Longhorns and Wolverines are set to play at 4:15 CEN.