AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Last season, Texas lost to Oklahoma State in overtime after Isaiah Taylor missed a free throw with three seconds remaining in regulation.
There was no such problem against Oklahoma State on Saturday night. Taylor made four straight free throws during the final 13 seconds and Texas held on to defeat the Cowboys 74-69 after squandering most of a 23-point second-half lead.
Taylor, who led Texas with 18 points, said he wasn’t thinking about last season when he stepped to the line on Saturday.
“I’m a confident free-throw shooter,” Taylor said. “I’m a confident dude.”
The Longhorns (11-6, 3-2 Big 12) took their biggest lead with 15 minutes remaining. But Texas allowed the Cowboys back into the game by missing 14 of 16 3-point shots and 8 of 22 free throws in the second half.
Tavarius Shine helped Oklahoma State (9-8, 1-4) stage a comeback by scoring all 14 of his points in the second half. He converted each of his four of his 3-point attempts in the period. The Cowboys cut the deficit to three on a basket by Anthony Allen with 2:47 left. But Javan Felix countered with a pair of free throws, and Eric Davis (12 points) made a driving shot with 40 seconds remaining and a pair of free throws 20 seconds later. Then Taylor took over.
Texas has relied more on 3-point shooting the last six games since losing center Cameron Ridley to a broken foot. The Longhorns hit 13 of 31 in a win against Iowa State on Tuesday but only 7 of 31 on Saturday. Felix, the team’s best 3-point shooter – 44.4 percent before Saturday – missed all seven against Oklahoma State.
“If they are good shooters, you want those guys to take those shots,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “You gotta encourage them to stay positive. But you can’t let your offense affect your defense. And I thought we did get a little bummed out when the ball wasn’t going in and it affected us somewhat.”
Texas did make an adjustment, driving more late in the game. That created free-throw situations and baskets by Taylor and Davis.
Oklahoma State trailed No. 2 Oklahoma by 15 in the first half on Wednesday before making a comeback and lost by two.
“We just gotta play like we’re down 30 at tip-off,” said Leyton Hammonds, Oklahoma State’s high scorer against Texas with 18 points.
Jawun Evans scored 42 against Oklahoma but was limited to 12 by the Longhorns. He attempted 13 shots at Texas after taking 31 against Oklahoma.
Texas led 40-25 at halftime after slow start. The Longhorns missed their first five 3-point shots but converted 5 of 10 the rest of the half, two of them by Davis.
“We were just treading water in the first half,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “(Later) we played with passion and a sense of urgency.”
Oklahoma State: Before Saturday, the Cowboys won six of their last seven games against Texas. The only defeat during that stretch came on Feb. 21, 2014 when Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart was serving a three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan. … Oklahoma State began the day ranked ninth of 10 Big 12 teams in scoring with 70.2 points a game.
Texas: Longhorns coach Shaka Smart removed starting center Prince Ibeh from the game with 9:10 left in the first half after he picked up his second foul. Texas played the rest of the half with the only two men left in the rotation, Connor Lammert and Shaquille Cleare, who scored six points in the period. … Texas committed only eight turnovers after committing a season-low five in a win against No. 17 Iowa State on Tuesday.
TOUGH STRETCH AHEAD
The Longhorns have a brutal schedule the next week with games at No. 11 West Virginia on Wednesday and No. 1 Kansas on Saturday. West Virginia beat Kansas on Tuesday in Morgantown. Texas is 0-2 in Big 12 road games, losing at Texas Tech and TCU. Even so, guard Isaiah Taylor said, “I’m excited. Playing on the road is fun. It’s a time when we really bond.”
Oklahoma State hosts Kansas on Tuesday
Texas is at West Virginia on Wednesday