Longhorns blow late double-digit lead, fall in OT to Mountaineers, 57-53

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By Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor
Posted Jan 9, 2013
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Jonathan Holmes

In a game that was not a preview of a potential Final Four matchup later this season, the Texas Longhorns coughed up a 10-point lead with 3:15 left to play in regulation before ultimately falling in overtime to West Virginia 57-53 Wednesday night at the Erwin Center.

Eron Harris' three-pointer from the corner with 16 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Mountaineers a 50-47 lead, but Texas' Jonathan Holmes answered with a nothing-but-net three-pointer of his own with 3.6 seconds left to play to send the game into overtime.

By then the Longhorns were shell-shocked too badly to salvage the win, though, and the Mountaineers outscored Texas 7-3 in the overtime period to secure the win. On one particularly telling overtime possession, the Mountaineers snared three consecutive offensive rebounds following missed shots. And the final score could've been worse, considering that West Virginia missed five free throws in the overtime period.

The Longhorns actually led in overtime 52-50 after a Prince Ibeh dunk with 3:56 remaining, but an Aaric Murray put-back and a pair of Gary Browne free throws gave the Mountaineers a 54-52 lead. Texas' Sheldon McClellan then missed the front end of a one-and-one with three minutes left.

Following the three-offensive-rebound possession for West Virginia, Ibeh made one of two free throws with 53.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 54-53, then Browne answered by hitting one of two at the line for a 55-53 West Virginia lead with 15.8 seconds remaining.

Texas' Ioannis Papapetrou then threw an ill-advised cross-court pass that was stolen by Murray, who swished both free throws for the final margin. Texas dropped to 8-7 overall and 0-2 in league play; West Virginia is 8-6 and 1-1.

Under normal circumstances, a matchup between teams coached by Rick Barnes and Bob Huggins would either be an eagerly-anticipated regular-season game or a do-or-die NCAA tournament contest. This was neither; ugly doesn't begin to describe this one, which Texas led at halftime by a score of 24-21.

Cases in point:

* Until Kevin Noreen's three-pointer with 3:10 remaining in regulation, the Mountaineers were 0-for-14 from three-point range.

* The Longhorns were 11 of 25 from the free throw line in the game, including 10 of 22 in regulation. If Texas shoots 50 percent in regulation, the Longhorns win.

* West Virginia shot 8 of 32 from the field in the first half (25 percent), and improved that to 45 percent in the second half. This was the winning team.

* The Longhorns were 4 of 17 from three-point range, and McClellan missed all six of his three-point attempts.

* West Virginia guard Jabarie Hinds was 4 of 18 from the field.

In fairness to Texas, the Longhorns came into the game as the top defensive shooting percentage team in the country, and that defense likely had at least a little to do with the Mountaineers' offensive struggles. Holmes led the team in scoring with 12 points, and also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

The blunt Huggins was obviously happy - and probably a little shocked - by the outcome after trailing for most of the game.

"We rebounded the ball in the last few minutes," Huggins said. "We missed three consecutive scores, rebounded, and then got another clock three times."

Barnes was brutally honest in his post-game appraisal.

"The frustrating thing for a coach is to look out there and see an opponent wanting the game more than you do," Barnes said. "It gets down to toughness. What was most disappointing was that when it was winning time, I think they wanted it more…they got the loose balls, rebounds, and our perimeter guys got tentative.

"The way we are playing is absolutely unacceptable."

Holmes - who drew high praise from Barnes - repeated his coach's critique almost word-for-word in his description of the burnt orange collapse that was brought about by the Mountaineers' domination of the offensive glass.

"At the end of the day, you have to go get the ball," Holmes said. "They wanted it more than we did at the end of the game, and that's why we lost."

 

 

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