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For much of No. 4 Texas’ game at No. 14 West Virginia, Courtney Ramey drove to the rim. He drove in the first half and scored nine points, most of them in the paint. He drove toward the basket again in the second half, adding 10 points.
Ramey received the ball with 10 seconds left and Texas down 70-69. Like he had all game, Ramey drove to the hoop. Five defenders circled him on his dash to the rim. Instead of trying to get one more bucket on this drive, he kicked the ball out. Andrew Jones caught Ramey’s pass in the corner and released a wide-open three-point shot. It found nothing but the bottom of the net and proved to be the game-winner in Longhorns’ 72-70 win in Morgantown.
“I knew Andrew was in the corner, and I believe in him with all my might to make the shot,” Ramey said. “I just had to put it on the money for him. He made the shot. That was a big shot for us.”
Jones’ three-pointer marked the end of a 7-0 Texas run over the final 90 seconds. The game, and Texas’ undefeated Big 12 record, were in jeopardy over that final minute and a half, but Texas chipped away and never let up.
Matt Coleman made two free throws with 88 seconds left. A Ramey drive cut the WVU lead to one with 55 seconds left.
West Virginia missed a field goal with 35 seconds left but collected the offensive rebound. Texas failed to box out and Mountaineer forward Emmitt Matthews grabbed the offensive rebound. He was fouled by Greg Brown and sent to the line with the chance to make it a three-point game. He missed both free throws, Ramey received the ball, and he set up the Longhorns’ last chance with about 10 seconds left. It was done without the use of Shaka Smart’s final timeout.
Smart said following the game he believed there was enough time left on the clock for his guards to make a good play and attack the defense before the Mountaineers were able to set themselves. He also didn’t want to give West Virginia the advantage of a timeout in order to try to direct the ball to a different player.
“Courtney did a good job of pushing the ball and our guys got spaced well,” Smart said. “He drove. He did a great job driving all game long, but that pass that he made to Andrew was a phenomenal pass.”
Ramey was not just the best player on the floor in the final 10 seconds. He was the best Longhorn on the floor in Morgantown. Ramey scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and added five rebounds and six assists, none more important than his last.
“I’ve definitely seen Courtney be aggressive and get to the hole,” Jones said. “A lot of calls didn’t go his way, but I was proud that he continued to get there. He continued to get those paint touches.”
Ramey was crucial in the first half when Coleman was forced to leave the floor with 11:33 remaining after his second foul. Coleman, typically the team’s primary ball-handler, played just nine minutes in the first half.
Ramey stepped up and lead Texas’ charge toward the basket. He scored nine points and added five assists. His efforts in the lane were key to Texas’ 20 first-half points in the paint. The theme continued in the second, even with Coleman back on the floor. Texas added another 20 points in the paint, many off dunks and guard-to-forward lobs to the rim.
“Courtney Ramey does not have a losing bone in his body,” Smart said. “He is 100 percent winner. He’s got incredible passion for team.”
Despite Coleman’s rough first half, he was one of five Longhorns in double figures. Coleman scored 13 points, Ramey added 19 points, Andrew Jones tallied 16 points, Brown recorded 12 points, and Kai Jones threw down 10 points. Texas did struggle from outside. Though the Longhorns were 47 percent from the field for the game they were only 4-of-19 from three-point land. Jones had all four makes, including the only UT make from distance in the second half.
It was an important one.
“Our guys hung in there,” Smart said. “They stayed together. Stayed the course. I told the guys in the locker room after that this was a response game. We talk all the time about response being your ability to focus on the next most important thing. They hung in there and did a good job of that today.”
West Virginia received 14 points apiece from Derek Culver and Sean McNeil. Miles McBride added 12, and Taz Sherman added 17. Sherman’s 17 was helped by scalding-hot shooting in the first half that he couldn’t keep up in the second 20 minutes. That group still helped the Mountaineers open up a nine-point lead midway through the second half.
But the Longhorns chipped away and eliminated the lead with Jones’ final three following a Ramey drive.
The Big 12 never lets up in men’s basketball and No. 18 Texas Tech visits the Erwin Center on Wednesday for another conference game.
Texas is ready to welcome them to Austin.
“We believe we’re one of the best teams in the country,” Jones said. “We believe we can play with anybody in the country. We’re really not too worried about rankings. We want to be able to take care of what we have to do each and every game, and that’s going to take care of itself in the long run.”
Cover photo courtesy of Texas athletics