Three Horns fouled out (Ford, Thomas, G Royal Ivey) while G Brandon Mouton picked up his fourth personal with 12:44 remaining in a fast-paced, physical matchup featuring the two programs to most recently part ways with Tom Penders. But it was Thomas' tough performance in the paint (10-of-11 FG, 10 rebounds) plus clutch free throwing down the stretch (the Horns were 29-of-36 from the charity stripe) that was the difference as Texas fended off the hard-charging Colonials (whose mascot looks like a constipated Barbara Bush).
Texas trailed by as many as eight points in the first half before tying the game at 43 with just under one minute until intermission. A pair of G Chris Monroe free throws made it 45-43 Colonials at the break. The Longhorns committed 12 first-half turnovers, but just two in the final 20 minutes, to begin pulling away from what was (in essence) the home team.
Mouton drained a three with just under one minute gone in the second half to give Texas a lead it would never surrender, 48-47. Following Thomas' lay-up, Mouton would complete an old-fashioned three-point play by hitting a free throw after drawing a foul on a put-back. The 8-0 run gave Texas its largest lead of the game to that point, 53-47, with just more than 13 minutes remaining.
Texas' tenacious man-to-man defense extended the Colonials beyond the perimeter to near mid-court, taking away passing angles while still (typically) limiting the Colonials to one FG attempt. But the fouls would quickly mount for both teams. The Longhorn lead would dwindle to two before Laurel, Maryland native Terrell Ross (playing in front of family and lifelong friends) nailed a three-pointer to put Texas up 63-58 with just under 12 minutes left.
Colonial F Omar Williams would foul out with four points at the 10:55 mark while Boddicker drew his fourth personal three minutes later with Texas clinging to a tenuous 4-point advantage, 68-64. Scrappy freshman F Brad Buckman (11 first half points) came in for Boddicker, but was hit with is fourth foul just 28 seconds later.
At this point, the game heated up and became a track meet with both squads trading fast break points beginning with Mouton's hanging jumper to make it 70-65, Texas. But George Washington drew within 72-70 after Monroe sank all three free throws after Ivey touch-fouled him beyond the arc.
But with 4:52 remaining, C Pops Mensah-Bonsu's collision with Boddicker while fighting for the rebound sent the Texas junior to the bench with a steady flow of blood dripping from a deep forehead gash. As trainers patched-up the Duncanville product, a double-technical was called on Ivey and F Mike Hall. (Think of it as an offsetting penalty in football in which the possession arrow indicates which team is awarded the inbounds pass. In this instance, the possession arrow favored George Washington, which meant Boddicker lost his free throw shots and four Longhorns are saddled with four personals).
This is when Thomas took over the outcome and reminded viewers why Indiana head coach, uh, Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight (I still have a hard time saying it) mentioned last season that Thomas may be his favorite player in the Big 12.
Making the kind of assist that only he can do, Ford threaded the proverbial needle and found Thomas inside the paint who slammed the ball home, drawing the personal. The three-point play gave Texas some breathing room, 81-73, with 3:52 remaining.
But Ford would soon foul out for the first time this season (after contributing 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds). Ross entered the game and Ivey ran the point. While less flashy, Texas grabbed its largest lead of the game to that point, 85-76, with another Thomas jam with 2:20 on the game clock. He would add another dunk and hit five-of-six FT's the rest of the way before fouling out with 35 seconds remaining.
The subsequent Colonial foul-a-thon saw a patched-up Boddicker return from the bench to hit a pair of free throws while Sydmill Harris' lay-in at the buzzer capped the hard-fought eight-point win.