Longhorns drop 2OT thriller to Baylor, 74-73, for team’s third straight loss.

Mohamed Bamba and Shaka Smart (Will Gallagher/IT)
Mohamed Bamba and Shaka Smart (Will Gallagher/IT)

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Texas struggled out of the gate in the first half, but was able to play the Baylor Bears even in the last nine minutes of the half to make it just a one possession game after the first 20 minutes. Texas again struggled out of the gate in the second half, but was able to play Baylor even in the last five minutes of the game to tie it at the end of regulation.

The first overtime consisted of two teams trading buckets, capped by two free throws from junior Kerwin Roach with three seconds remaining to extend the game five more minutes. The second overtime was once again two teams trading buckets, but Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil’s put-back dunk was the final exchange of the game, enough to give the Bears a 74-73 win in the Erwin Center on Monday.

Baylor’s Terry Maston, who had a game-high 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting, opened the second overtime with a jumper, a common theme for the evening. Texas responded with a baby hook from junior Dylan Osetkowski, but Baylor came right back with a response. Junior Eric Davis hit a three with less than two minutes left to give the Longhorns a one point lead, but Maston hit yet another jumper to take the lead right back.

Roach drove down the right side of the line for a layup to give Texas the lead with less than 20 seconds left. Baylor’s Manu Lecomte, who had 16 points and seven assists on the evening, missed a shot thanks to the defense of Texas freshman Mohamed Bamba. However, Bamba leaving to help contest the shot gave fellow seven-footer Lual-Acuil the chance to take the lead, grabbing the rebound and slamming it home with six seconds left. Roach tried to respond with a floater and drew contact, but the whistles stayed silent and his shot fell to the floor as Baylor escaped with their sixth conference victory and likely with Texas’ NCAA Tournament hopes.

“If we could stop Manu Lecomte from driving down the lane and shooting the layup, and Mo went to block the shot, then they’re getting the tip dunk, then yeah, we stop it,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said after the game. “But we didn’t. We have to find a way to do that the next time.”

After several recent poor performances, including an uninspired offensive performance Wednesday against Kansas State and one of the worst defensive showings from a Smart Texas team Saturday against TCU, Texas showed determination in getting back into the game in spite of the slow starts to both halves.

Want to can only go so far, because wanting to put the ball in the bucket doesn’t make it go in. Texas shot 36.1 percent from the field and an abysmal 3-of-19 from three-point range for the game. Bamba was a bright spot, putting up a 16 point, 16 rebound performance on 7-of-17 shooting. The rest of the team’s shooting left a lot to be desired, specifically from the outside.

“In terms of outside shooting, to be right there to win being 3-for-19 says a lot about what our guys did in other areas of the game,” Smart said. “You needed one more of those balls to go in.”

Slow starts once again stopped Texas from being able to run in the style they prefer. Starting 1-of-12 in the first and 1-of-8 in the second put the Longhorns in a hole.

That makes it tough on any team, but especially on a team without true scoring threats save for its center in Bamba. For Smart, it wasn’t about the slow starts so much as not taking care of business in the last five minutes.

“A slow start makes it tough, but that being said our guys battled and forced overtime,” Smart said. “We took a lead in double overtime. When we had the lead, we weren’t able to stop them.”

The biggest thorns in Texas’ side were Lual-Acuil, Lecomte and Maston. The trio accounted for 56 of the 74 points for the Bears, and junior Dylan Osetkowski never seemed to have an answer for Maston on defense, getting taken to school on the low block and in the mid-range.

Dylan Osetkowski (Will Gallagher/IT)
Dylan Osetkowski (Will Gallagher/IT)

“We just didn’t do a good enough job on Terry Maston,” Smart said. “He had a phenomenal game. A couple of those baskets were the result of trying to take away Lecomte, but you’ve got to take away both and find a way to take away both.”

In addition to Bamba, three other Longhorns were in double figures. Osetkowski, Roach and freshman Matt Coleman all added 15 points.

The team was very obviously dejected following the game. Walk-on guard Joe Schwartz was seen taking his frustration out on one of the chairs on the Texas bench.

The team’s frustration was not seen in the post-game media session. Only Smart was made available to the media as Texas players remained in Cooley Pavilion for a players only meeting.

“Our guys are upstairs hashing some things out,” Smart said. “It’s going to be a while until they’re done with that. That’s why I’m here.”

The team was working things out on its own because of how disappointed the loss left them.

“They’re really, really upset,” Smart said. “Some of those guys are really angry because it was a game that I think they put their egos aside and came together in terms of attacking and hanging in there together and battling, but obviously we came up one stop short, or one basket short depending on how you look at it. Guys are really upset.”

At this point, NCAA tournament chances look slim, especially with the difficult slate of playing at Oklahoma, at Kansas State, versus Oklahoma State, at Kansas and versus West Virginia ahead of the Longhorns.

The team is in a funk right now, but Smart thinks the team can get out of that funk and stop the losing streak it is currently on.

“We want to win,” Smart said. “We want to win bad. Each game you look at on an individual basis and you say ‘what did we need to do better’ and there’s a lot of things from tonight we need to look at. Absolutely they can stop it.”