Fans began heading for the exits Monday night at the Frank Erwin Center just as Oklahoma went up 83-78 with 19.1 seconds left.
But then the unthinkable happened.
Sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. knocked down a three, and Oklahoma freshman guard Kameron McGusty missed two free throws on the other end.
The door was left a little too wide open for Texas to capitalize. Freshman guard Andrew Jones proceeded to hit the shot of a lifetime — a fadeaway three to down the arch-rival Sooners at home.
Texas 84, Oklahoma 83.
“When it left my hand, it felt real good,” Jones said. “When it dropped, I was happy.”
The Longhorns withstood the hot shooting of Oklahoma freshman forward Kristian Doolittle, who finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior forward Shaquille Cleare went to work down low for Texas. Cleare was masterful in the lane and finished with a career-high 23 points and eight rebounds.
Davis finally came to life shooting the ball. Davis scored 18 points, 15 of which came from red-hot shooting from beyond the arc.
“Today was definitely a confidence booster,” Davis said. “Definitely seeing the ball go in was good.”
While Monday night’s Red River Showdown was a far cry from last year’s matchup in Austin in terms of importance to conference standings, Texas still secured a much-needed home victory.
The Longhorns took down the Buddy Hield-led Sooners last year at the Erwin Center in thrilling fashion, 76-63, to vault Texas to 10–6 in Big 12 play.
Times have changed since then for both teams, as each limped into Monday with losing records and are doubtful to make the NCAA tournament. The stakes were nowhere near as high and the crowd was nowhere near a sellout.
But this was every bit as important.
“We needed this in the worst way possible,” Cleare said.
Texas got off to a much better start than it did Saturday in Lawrence against No. 2 Kansas. The Longhorns scored on their first three possessions to take an early 7-2 lead, which increased to 15-6 before Oklahoma woke up.
A game of runs ensued. The Sooners went on a 9-0 run, followed by a 9-0 run of Texas’ own. A three by Doolittle gave Oklahoma its first lead of the game at 26-24 with 7:57 left in the first half.
More back and forth followed, and a layup by sophomore guard Kerwin Roach Jr. with three seconds left put the Longhorns up 41-39 at the intermission.
Davis continued his hot shooting right out of the break. Back-to-back threes from Davis and freshman guard Andrew Jones in the first two-and-a-half minutes capped off a 10-1 run to put the Longhorns up 51-40.
Texas led 66-56 with 9:21 to play but squandered the lead late. A dunk by sophomore guard Rashard Odomes with 59 seconds to play gave the Sooners their first lead of the second half at 80-78. Three-straight free throws put Oklahoma in complete command — until Davis and Jones spoiled it.
“Don’t give up — that was my main message,” Davis said. “Don’t give up.”
Texas hopes to carry the momentum into Saturday as the Longhorns head out of conference to face Georgia on the road.
“You can’t get too high or too low,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “You still got to turn the page.”