As the clock wound down with two and a half minutes to play, Shaka Smart tried one last effort to save the Longhorns’ winning chances. With his team trailing by eight, the Texas head coach called for a half-court pressure.
But just like they did for most of the second half, the veteran Michigan State squad knifed through the Longhorns’ futile defensive attempt. Not a single Texas player came close to deflecting a pass.
And when guard Joshua Langford found himself with a wide-open three at the top of the arc, he delivered the dagger for any chance of Texas coming back, as the No. 11 Spartans knocked off Texas 78-68 in the championship game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Langford’s 29 points led all scorers.
Through the first 10 minutes on Friday, the Longhorns appeared ready to put the finishing touches on an impressive weekend in Las Vegas. Texas carried over its strong shooting performance from its win against North Carolina, and made five of its first eight three-point attempts to take a 25-6 lead.
The scoring slowed for the Longhorns entering the final minutes of the first half, and Michigan State mounted a run of its own with four three-pointers in just over two minutes. But Texas maintained a a 44-36 lead heading into halftime thanks to a 41.2 shooting percentage from three point range.
Michigan State, however, responded strongly after the break. Langford scored 11 points and guard Cassius Winston added a three of his own to give the Spartans their first lead of the game with 15:26 to play.
On the other end, the Longhorns were unable to adjust to an improved Spartan defense. Texas’ leading scorers in the first period — Dylan Osetkowski, Kerwin Roach II and Courtney Ramey — who combined for six three-pointers in the first half only managed to account for one in the second.
And as a whole, the Longhorns struggled mightily from the field as well. Their field goal percentage dropped to 34.4 percent after shooting 21.9 percent in the second period, which included a woeful 11.8 percent from behind the three-point arc.
The Spartans took advantage, seizing a five-point lead at 9:39 mark that never dwindled down the stretch. When the game finally concluded, Michigan State outscored the Longhorns 42-24 in the second half.
With the loss, the Longhorns move to 5–1 on the season. They’ll return to action Friday against Radford at the Frank Erwin Center for a 6 p.m. tip.