Despite poor shooting, Longhorns move past ISU to advance in Big 12 Tournament, 68-64

Dylan Osetkowski (Will Gallagher/IT)

Dylan Osetkowski (Will Gallagher/IT)

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Texas tried to three-point shoot themselves to an insurmountable lead over Iowa State early in the first half. Its lack of success led to a 10 point deficit the Longhorns would eventually come back from to make it a three point game at the half.

After Texas figured things out in the first two minutes of the second half, Iowa State figured things out in turn. From that point on, it became a back-and-forth slugfest that Texas ended up winning, with freshman Matt Coleman’s mid-range jumper with 44 seconds remaining serving as the final blow.  Seventh-seed Texas defeated the tenth-seed Cyclones in Kansas City, a.k.a. “Hilton South,” 68-64 to move on to the second round of the Big 12 Tournament.

Winning this game goes a long way toward solidifying Texas’ spot in the NCAA Tournament. A loss to the Cyclones would have been placed in the “bad loss” category on UT’s tournament résumé. Instead, it’s a win in 2017-18’s strongest conference’s postseason tournament.

The game was tied with eight minutes left. It was then tied with five minutes left. From that point, Texas would take a lead they wouldn’t surrender but would have to fight to hold onto. Coleman added four points over those last five minutes, all while playing with four fouls.

Four of Texas’ last six points came in the paint, including a layup from junior Dylan Osetkowski off an ISU turnover. Freshman Jericho Sims would follow that up with a dunk of his own with 3:42 left, part of his eight point, 15 rebound effort.

The most important of Sims’ eight points were the last two. Osetkowski missed a three-pointer, one of his nine misses from distance, but Sims was in perfect position for a put-back to give the Longhorns a four point lead with 1:40 left.

ISU’s Cameron Lard then responded with a layup, part of his 14 points in the first round matchup, setting Texas up with its most important possession of the game. On that possession, Coleman came through with his cold-blooded jumper.

While trailing and in crunch-time, the Cyclones turned to another freshman, Lindell Wigginton. Wigginton presented a tough matchup for Texas junior Kerwin Roach, one of the most athletic defenders in the conference. Wigginton punished Texas with his athleticism over and over through the first 30 minutes, adding a team-high 20 points for the night. He even punished Roach’s mouth with a wayward elbow in the first half, knocking out one of his teeth. Luckily for Roach, the Kansas City Chiefs’ team dentist was on hand to repair the dental issue.

However, the last of those 20 points came with 12:45 remaining in the game. Wigginton missed his last three shots including a three-pointer with 13 seconds left that sophomore Jacob Young pulled down for one of the most important rebounds of his career.

Texas had poor shooting from everybody early, especially Osetkowski. The Longhorns’ continued persistence on shooting the deep ball left ESPN commentators wondering why Texas continued the practice. It allowed the Cyclones to jump to a 10-point lead with six minutes left in the first half. However, Osetkowski responded with 12 points over the last 5:46 to give the Longhorns a three point lead going into the break.

In addition to the discovered offense, Texas put the clamps on Iowa State on the defensive end. From the 7:17 mark to the end of the first half, the Longhorns allowed just five points. The Longhorns forced seven turnovers and Iowa State shot just 2-of-7 over that stretch.

The Cyclones shot better (50 percent to 40 percent) and made more shots (27 to 25) than Texas, but the Longhorns lead in other important categories. Texas turned the ball over 10 fewer times and doubled ISU in offensive boards, second chance points and made free throws. Those stats, including sending the Cyclones to the line just nine times, meant that Texas could hold on for the victory despite shooting much worse than ISU from the field.

Texas moves on to take on Texas Tech tomorrow at 6 p.m. either on ESPN2. Texas split the season series with the Red Raiders with the loss coming on a last second shot by Keenan Evans.