This time, the Horns held on to edge Kansas State, 75-72. Freshman G Daniel Gibson, shut out in the second period, tallied 14 points in the final frame to lead his team with 23 points (including 5-of-6 from three-point range).
It means the bubble hasn't burst yet for a UT program that has been reduced to seven scholarship players. The win snapped a three-game losing skid and raised Texas' mark to 16-7, 5-5 in Big 12. Junior F Brad Buckman believes the outcome, even against lightly regarded KSU, could be "a turning point" in UT's topsy-turvy season.
"This game was huge for us," said Buckman, after registering his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards. "I mean, all games are important. Each one is must-win. But this one might be a turning point in getting the bus pointed back in the right direction."
It was deja vu all over again for the Horns who, for the second week in a row, squandered a seven-point lead during the final few minutes of regulation. Nursing a four-point advantage, Texas was guilty of a shot clock violation during the final minute of play. Gibson missed both foul shots with 26 ticks remaining and then sent F Jeremiah Massey to the charity stripe 20 seconds later. The senior was true on both attempts as senior G Kenny Taylor's desperation heave sailed wide.
The Wildcats did not take their first lead in this one until Massey opened the overtime period with an eight-foot jumper. But it was as if Gibson was a new person during OT, hitting all three FG (including two treys) and knocking down all six foul shots.
"Sydmill (Harris) told me he was going to kill me after I missed the free throws," Gibson laughed. "But Syd is the one who taught me not to worry about missed free throws and to come back and start over."
If you want to see the 2004-05 season in a nutshell, all you had to do was look at Harris writhing in pain near the top of the key with 18:09 remaining in the second period.
But he checked back in nearly two minutes later and connected on a miracle-of-a-trey as the shot clock expired and all the second half momentum on the Wildcats' side of the court. It gave Texas a brief 40-32 cushion but was a shot in the arm as Texas bogged down offensively just after intermission.
"It was pure luck," Harris said of the shot. "The ball just rolled to me and I put it up. I didn't even see the rim. I was just hoping it would go in."
Harris' 17 points (including 5-of-8 treys) tied Buckman as Texas' second-leading scorer but is without peer in terms of playing through pain. Although the senior has been beset all season with a groin injury, Harris wore an ice pad on his left ankle following the contest and spoke of a chronic knee problem that has hampered him "for 15 years."
It prompted Barnes to again praise Harris for his heart and hustle, despite being unable to practice most of the past two weeks.
"Nobody goes through what Syd does just to get ready for a game," Barnes said. "He's out to practice 90 minutes before any one else (rehabbing). It's something that only rest is going to heal but he's playing through it. Defensively, he was outstanding today."
Texas was 24-of-51 (47 percent) from the floor while holding KSU to 36 percent (23-of-64). The Wildcats fired 37 treys over Texas' 2-3 zone, connecting on 13 (35 percent) while the Horns were 11-of-20 (55 percent) from beyond the arc. Texas was guilty of 13 turnovers leading to 15 KSU points. The visitors, meanwhile, turned the ball over just five times in 45 minutes.
Freshman F Dion Dowell logged his second consecutive start, while Barnes praised both Dowell and freshman F Mike Williams for their minutes which allowed frontcourt mates Buckman and senior C Jason Klotz to rest their legs for both the second period and final frame. Dowell registered five points and a career-best five rebounds in 21 minutes of work while Williams grabbed two boards and was credited with a block during 12 minutes of action. Dowell, however, committed four turnovers in the second half while Williams did not even attempt a shot.
"We can't have just four guys out there looking to score," said Barnes, after Williams was 0-from-the-field for the second straight game.
Dowell's ally-oop slam on the feed from Gibson awakened the 9,203 (turnstile) attendance for an early 5-3 Texas lead. Gibson's trey made it a 10-6 ballgame before G Fred Peete knocked down his second three-pointer in as many attempts. Harris drained a trey from the right wing on the baseline bounce pass from Gibson to push the Longhorn margin to 20-13.
Coming off the bench for the second straight game, Taylor skywalked for the tip-in of Klotz's attempt to open up a 22-14 advantage. Lance Harris straightaway trey, KSU's fourth in eight attempts, kept the Wildcats close at 24-19 with just under seven minutes remaining until intermission. Dowell, playing in an obvious comfort zone, drained a three-ball before Gibson connected on his third trey in as many attempts to open up a double-digit Longhorn lead, 30-19. Conversely, the Wildcats misfired on their final four trey attempts as Texas' 2-3 zone clogged the driving lines.
The depleted Longhorn lineup did not pick up its seventh team foul until 38 seconds until the break and held the visitors to just 7-of-24 from the field during the first 20 minutes. Peete's runner in the lane in the final three seconds sent the Horns into the locker room with a 33-22 lead.
The Horns committed just five turnovers in the first period but were guilty of five give-aways during the first eight minutes of the final frame. Peete swished back-to-back treys to bring KSU within 33-28 before Klotz answered. Harris was helped to the bench as he went down hard but checked back in to nail his third FG from beyond the arc to make it a 40-32 ballgame.
Freshman G Allen Curtis followed his trey with a jumper as KSU turned it into a one-possession game, 40-37. Things got dicey following Massey's traditional three-point play as the Wildcats dipped further into the Longhorn lead, 42-40, with 10:47 remaining. But Buckman, a warrior in the paint, brought the Longhorn faithful to their feet with back-to-back boards and reverse layups. Peete almost single-handedly kept his club in the contest with consecutive treys sandwiched around Texas 12th turnover. Just like that, the Horns were once again nursing a two-point lead at 48-46 with less than eight minutes remaining.
That's when Harris got his hand into the thick of things. The senior chased down the rebound after Buckman bricked both FT attempts and then drew F Tyler Hughes' fifth foul. Harris knocked down both foul shots to give Texas some breathing room, 50-46, with 7:19 left. On UT's next possession, Harris' heave from the left wing as the shot clock expired resulted in his fourth trey of the ballgame.
But red-hot Peete immediately answered with his seventh bucket from beyond the arc in 11 attempts. The sophomore led all scorers with 28 points, including 7-of-14 treys. Taylor drew nothing but nylon to make it a 55-49 contest. Massey and Buckman both sank a pair of foul shots before Peete's traditional three-point play turned this one into a nailbiter, 57-53, with 87 seconds left.
Texas was guilty of a shotclock violation with less than one minute remaining before Buckman sent Massey back to the foul line. Massey hit both his shots before Gibson, shut out in the second period, clanked both FTs with 26 ticks left. Gibson was whistled for his fourth personal, sending Massey back to the line, tying the game at 57 to send it into OT. But this time Gibson and company saw to it that the outcome Saturday would be different than the 92-80 OT loss to Iowa State last week.
PAYBACK'S A... SWEET THING INDEED: The Horns look to avenge a 74-63 January 12 loss at Texas A&M when the Aggies come calling Wednesday, February 16. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (CST) in a Fox Sports Southwest regional telecast.