Texas (13-5, 3-1 Big 12) and Villanova (13-5, 2-3 Big East) both had trouble converting their shots (35% and 37%, respectively), but it was the Wildcats' defense that gave them the win.
Forward Shane Clark, who had been a key contributor to the Wildcats off the bench, got his first start of the season because of a deep bone contusion to leading scorer Curtis Sumpter, and Clark did not disappoint the Villanova fans gathered at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Clark helped Nova in the post on Saturday, putting up 13 rebounds to go along with his 11 points and was one of the big reasons the Wildcats outrebounded the Horns 39-28.
But the big scorer for Villanova was Scottie Reynolds. The freshman guard had 26 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Twelve of his points came on free throws (12-of-13), his most important coming down the stretch to seal the Wildcat win.
Both teams were a combined 2-of-12 to start the game, with Texas holding a 3-2 lead with 15:13 to go. A three for Villanova from Reynolds was followed by a quick three from Durant. The scoring came in bursts like that for both teams. There were large sections of time where neither team could best their opponent's defense and the first half ended with a 26-23 Villanova lead. The Horns' 23 was their lowest output in the first half of any game this season. The previous low at halftime was 26 in the loss to Gonzaga.
Texas began the second half with an Augustin trey to tie the game up at 26, but a Reynolds three took it out to 29-26 Villanova. It was the last point in the game that Texas would have a tie or the lead.
Nova began to extend their lead, but a three-pointer and the foul from A.J. Abrams narrowed it back to three. He didn't convert the four-point play, but the Wildcat lead was at 40-37. After a tough night against Oklahoma State, Abrams put up 19 points for Texas in the loss.
Texas was still hanging tight with Nova, but the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to take a 48-37 lead and the Longhorns were in a big hole.
Texas narrowed it to six with seven minutes to go, but another three from Villanova took the game out to nine. It seemed that for every attack Texas had, the Wildcats had one to answer. Nova extended the lead to thirteen and the game was quickly getting out of reach for the Horns. But a 12-2 run for the Horns narrowed it to five and suddenly Texas was back in business.
After 11 points in the first half, Durant didn't have any in the second half until 2:47 to go in the game when he hit a free throw to take it to 68-63 Villanova. It would also be Durant's last point of the game. A three-pointer from Abrams with 2:16 left narrowed the once seemingly insurmountable lead to two, 68-66.
A couple of free throws from Dante Cunningham gave Nova a 70-66 lead. Misses from each team took a minute of time off the clock and the game was down to a minute remaining. Augustin drove down the floor and had a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Justin Mason in the corner, but Mason's shot bounced off the front of the iron and Mason was forced to foul. Reynolds made both of his free throws and Texas was down by six. The next possession, J.D. Lewis took a three, missed it, but was fouled by Clark and went to the line to shoot three.
With 35.4 seconds to go in the game and down by 6, Lewis had to hit all three free throws to make it a one score game. Lewis hit all three.
A foul from Augustin put Reyonds at the line and the Villanova guard hit one of his two. Texas was now down four, but a long three from Durant was no good. The Wildcats' Bilal Benn was fouled by Lewis, and that was pretty much it for the Horns as Villanova held on for the 76-69 win.
Texas next takes on Nebraska in Lincoln on Wednesday, Jan. 24th. Tip is set for 7 p.m.