The gutcheck win raised Texas' record to 13-3 while cooling off the conference's hottest team (Tech had won 12 straight) as the markedly improved Red Raiders fell to 16-3 on the season. Both squads now stand at 4-1 in Big 12 play, a half-game behind league-leading Kansas.
Following Saturday's home loss to nationally ranked Oklahoma State, head coach Rick Barnes' bunch badly needed a win to jockey for position in what is shaping up as a four-hour race for the finish line.
With less than thirty seconds remaining in regulation, I scratched this onto my note pad, "When is the last time G Brandon Mouton has had a big game for the Horns?" The senior, working through nagging ankle and knee injuries, did not have a big game overall (3-of-10 FG for 8 points, five turnovers) but made the big play when Texas needed him most.
With 3.2 ticks on the clock and Texas trailing 55-52...
BANG! Mouton nailed the game-tying trey off a cross-court inbounds pass from senior G Royal Ivey to send the nailbiter into OT.
The play was drawn up after Texas quickly inbounded the ball from its own baseline to mid-court. The Horns quickly signaled for time-out and Barnes called a set play in which Mouton was one of three options to take the game-tying shot. After Ivey's toss, senior F Brian Boddicker set a screen as Mouton moved to his left to create space for the long look.
Junior C Jason Klotz (the only consistently strong inside presence for Texas in the past three games) opened the OT with a bucket while Boddicker's shot from the beyond the arc gave the Horns a 60-56 lead with 3:09 remaining. An Ivey turnover lead to Jackson's wide-open trey to trim the margin to one. Junior G Ronald Ross stuffed Ivey in the lane but the Horns came up with the key defensive stops to give the senior a chance to ice the game from the line. After Ivey's free throws gave Texas a 62-59 advantage, Texas opted to send Ross to the charity stripe (he made them both to complete the scoring) rather than risk a potential game-tying three-point attempt.
The Horns overcame a 10-point deficit after Tech opened the second half with a 10-zip run (thanks largely to a pair of F Mike Marshall's treys) to fashion a 32-22 lead. Barnes opted to play more zone than he has all year to force the outside shot against a Tech team that is dead-last in league play from three-point land (averaging 3.5 treys per game). The strategy seemed to backfire after the Red Raiders were true from beyond the arc on 5-of-12 attempts by intermission, but the home team connected on just 3-of-13 treys the rest of the way.
Defensively, Texas did as masterful a job as you'll see all season against senior F Andre Emmett, who entered Monday's game as the Big 12's leading scorer (22.2 ppg) and who was named Big 12 Player of the Week for a league-record fifth time in a single season just before tip-off. Limited to nine points (2-of-12 FG, 4-of-8 FT), Emmett failed to register double-digits for the first time this year. Tech countered with Jackson's career-best 17 points (6-of-19 FG) while Texas hung tough on the strength of sophomore point guard Kenton Paulino's career best 12 points (5-of-7 FG, 1-1 FT), all in the first half but good enough to lead his team in scoring.
Neither team shot well, as Texas was 24-of-61 (.393) from the floor while Tech was a chilly 19-of-59 (.322). The Raiders went to the free throw line 22 times, hitting 15, while the Horns were just 8-of-12 from the charity stripe (a crazy stat considering this physical affair required an extra frame).
Uncharacteristically, the Horns turned the ball over 18 times while Tech committed just eight give-aways. Texas, however, handled the ball better during crunch time with just four turnovers during the last 15 minutes of the contest (including OT). Just as important, Texas absolutely dominated the glass down the stretch and won the battle of the boards, 48-33.
Whatever rebounding edge Tech might have had took a blow when F Robert Tomaszek (6-9) sat out the game with an ankle injury. Even so, Barnes opted a for a taller line-up, as senior James Thomas (1-4 FG, 4 rebounds,1 block) started at center for the first time since the Dec. 20 loss against top-ranked Duke. Freshman F P.J. Tucker (6-5), struggling against double-teams and heftier opponents since league play began earlier this month, was a reservist Monday. He finished with nine bench points (4-of-12 FG, 1-2 FT), but missed a lay-up with less than 45 seconds remaining. Still, the youngster tied Boddicker for team honors with eight rebounds.
Boddicker also missed a point-blank putback on the same possession as well as the second end of a one-and-one as Texas trailed 53-52 with 4.1 seconds remaining. Ross then connected on both freebies but that only set up Mouton's clutch shot from beyond the arc to force the extra session.
Barnes' record now stands at 11-1 against Texas Tech. The Horns have not lost in Lubbock since 1997.
Texas' road swing continues at Texas A&M (12:30 p.m. CST) Saturday before returning to the Erwin Center for a Wednesday, Feb. 4 tip against Colorado.