Texas Falls in OT at Tennessee

Texas saw a 15-point halftime lead slip through its fingers before dropping a 111-105 barnburner in overtime at Tennessee Saturday.

It was the Longhorns' first true road game of the season, who enter the holiday break with an 8-3 mark. Texas had a chance to run its record to 3-0 against Southeastern Conference teams this month, having dispatched Arkansas, nationally-ranked LSU and holding a five-point lead with minute to play in regulation at Knoxville. But junior G Chris Lofton sparked the Volunteer comeback with a career-best 35 points. Lofton drained consecutive treys in the final minute, including a 27-footer, to help send this one into overtime.

Lofton then nailed a career-tying seventh three-ball in the extra period, and suddenly the Horns were playing catch-up against a Tennessee team that trailed for 9:48 of the second period. The Volunteers connected on 6-of-7 FGs during the extra frame, and 8-of-10 foul shots during the final 1:12 of OT, to hold Texas at arm's length. The Horns, meanwhile, misfired on 5-of-6 from outside the arc during the extra five minutes of play. Connor Atchley and Justin Mason sat out the OT with five fouls while Kevin Durant played half of the second period and the entire OT with four.

Durant led the Horns with 26 points (10-of-22 FG), the ninth time in 11 games that the freshman phenom has scored 20+ points. D.J. Augustin, stating his case as the best freshman point guard in the country, followed with 20 points (6-of-9 FG) and a career-best 13 assists. A.J. Abrams notched 17 points (6-of-18 FG) and Justin Mason followed with 15 (4-of-10).

Texas shot 45.3 percent (34-of-75) for the contest while the Vols connected on 44.3 percent (37-of-79) of their attempts from the floor. Both teams collected 48 rebounds apiece.

The Horns trailed early, 11-5, before mounting an 11-0 run, including consecutive treys from Connor Atchley and J.D. Lewis. Durant's turnaround jumper gave Texas a 22-13 lead. The Vols began driving to the hole on three straight possessions, drawing fouls and trimming the edge at the charity stripe, 22-17. Durant followed Justin Mason's three-ball with a pair of free throws to build a 29-20 Longhorn advantage with 7:45 remaining until intermission.

Back-to-back treys from Mason gave the Burnt Orange a 37-25 cushion. Augustin's traditional three-point play made it a 42-28 ballgame. He followed with a cost-to-coast, thread-the-needle lay-up before Lewis drained his second three-ball of the contest. That gave Texas its largest lead of the first half at 47-30. Texas took a 50-35 lead into the lockerroom after shooting 51.6 percent (16-of-31) in the first period. Meanwhile, the Vols misfired on 24-of-31 shots to end the half.

Tennessee got back into this one with a 7-0 run during the first two minutes of second period. Mason's put-back broke the drought to make it a 54-42 contest. But Durant was whistled for his third personal and took a seat at the 16-minute mark. Consecutive Chris Lofton's trey trimmed the Longhorn lead, 57-52. Abrams' trey ended a 10-0 volunteer run, but Damion James was whistled for a technical foul following a personal foul. Abrams' second three-ball spotted Texas a 63-54 margin. Tennessee narrowed the lead, 63-58, as Durant checked back in with 13:14 remaining.

It was a one-possession game at 63-60 before Augustin and Abrams drained consecutive treys. Durant was whistled for his fourth personal and took a seat with Texas holding a 69-62 lead at the 10:16 mark. The Vols narrowed the lead, 69-67, before a pair of Mason FTs and James' tip-in made it 73-67. Mason fouled-out with 7:03 remaining and the Vols followed with a traditional three-point play, and suddenly it was a 73-72 nail-biter.

Atchley was whistled for his fifth with Texas nursing a 79-76 lead at the 5:05 mark. Lewis' foul shots made it a 81-76 contest as Durant checked back in with 5:17 left. Durant's silky-smooth spin and lay-up gave Texas an 83-76 lead. But Lofton drained consecutive treys to give Tennessee it's first lead since the 11:10 mark of the first period, 88-87. Texas turned the ball over on a five-second violation, but Ramar Smith missed the back end of his foul shots, giving Texas a chance. Durant's driving lay-up with nine seconds remaining sent the shootout into over time, knotted at 89.

Texas returns to action on December 28 with a 7 p.m. (CST) home game against Centenary. The contest will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Southwest.

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