Kerwin Roach II

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

With eight seconds left on the clock in double overtime and a one-point deficit for Texas, junior guard Kerwin Roach II drove right and threw up a long runner in a desperate, final look.

But like so many of Texas’ shots on Monday evening, the floater fell short and Baylor grabbed the rebound.

Baylor 74, Texas 73.

It was a pivotal loss for a sliding Texas team that dampened any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. After posting an impressive 11–2 home record through its first 13 games, Texas has now dropped back-to-back games at the Frank Erwin Center for the first time this season.

“They are really upset,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “And some of these guys are really angry, because some of those guys put their egos aside and came together in terms of attacking and battling. But obviously we came up one stop short.”

Texas missed 11 of its first 12 shots as Baylor took an early 13-6 lead.

The Longhorns rank at the bottom of the Big 12 in 3-point shooting, a fact that Baylor took full advantage of in the opening half. Even with freshman guard Jase Febres — the team’s top marksman from three — back in the starting lineup, Texas shot a miserable 2-of-11 in the first half from deep.

The Longhorns converted on just one field goal at the midway point of the half. And even then, the points came on contested mid-range jumpers. The offense was flat.

With under 10 minutes to play in the first half, Baylor scored on an easy layup off an inbound pass, forcing Texas head coach Shaka Smart to burn a timeout. That break proved to be the turning point of the opening period.

“Particularly in the first half, they didn’t let (poor shooting) get them down,” Smart said. “We had some good looks we didn’t make. We got the ball inside pretty well a few times where we didn’t put it away. That happened a couple times.”

Out of the timeout a three by junior guard Eric Davis Jr. gave Texas a badly needed spark. Roach got a dunk off a steal, then freshman forward Mo Bamba brought the crowd to its feet with a thunderous dunk off the lob from the junior guard to cut the lead to one.

Moments later, the same duo connected on an identical, yet even more spectacular, alley-oop, and Texas took its first lead since the opening seconds.

The two teams traded baskets and entered halftime separated by a single possession, with the Bears clinging to a two-point advantage.

The Longhorns missed four uncontested shots from behind the arc to open the second half, including an airball from Davis as Baylor jumped out to an early five-point lead.

But it was Bamba who set the tone again for Texas. A huge rejection on Baylor forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. led to a layup on the other end for Bamba — Texas’ first points of the second half after nearly five minutes.

Baylor maintained a two-possession advantage until the 11-minute mark. Whether it was mismatches or a lack of effort from Texas, the Bears had little trouble abusing the Longhorns on both ends of the court. Texas looked deflated as Baylor pressed the attack, pulling ahead by eight with four minutes to play.

But the Texas players kept grinding. On the heels of a technical foul by Baylor, a late three from freshman guard Matt Coleman and a scoop layup under the rim brought the Longhorns within one with 30 seconds left in regulation. Moments later, Coleman went to the line, calmly hitting two free throws to tie the game for the Longhorns at 56.

Baylor missed a final look from deep as the two teams headed into overtime. Neither squad was able to command an advantage in the ensuing five minutes. After a pair of free throws from Roach tied the game at 64, the two teams headed into a second overtime period.

Again both teams failed to create any meaningful separation.

Texas and Baylor traded layups on both ends as time ran down. With under 15 seconds to play, Baylor took a one-point lead on a dunk inside.

“I knew that Mo was going to block the shot, and I was just hoping for a good miss,” Lual-Acuil Jr. said. “And thankfully I went up and I got it.”

The late runner by Roach proved just off the mark, and Texas (15–11, 5–8 Big 12) saw its postseason hopes suffer a massive blow in disappointing fashion.

“Slow starts make it tough,” Smart said. “That being said, our guys battled and forced overtime, forced double overtime. But even as we took the lead, they weren’t able to stop them.”

Photo Credit: Angel Ulloa | Daily Texan Staff

With 10 games remaining in an up-and-down season, Saturday’s bout was about setting the tone for the final stretch.

And the message was clear.

Looking as dominant as the conference they represented, the Longhorns (14–7, 4–4 Big 12) cruised to an 85-72 victory over Ole Miss in the Big 12/SEC challenge at the Frank Erwin Center. The win gave Texas back-to-back wins for the first time in over a month.

“We came out here wanting to win,” junior guard Kerwin Roach II said. “We were just more hungry. We also wanted to win once we got back on the road, and this was a great way to start it.”

For a second straight game, freshman forward Mo Bamba recorded a career-high scoring performance, earning 25 points and collecting 15 rebounds to go along with four blocks.

“Mississippi came in with a level of physicality and aggressiveness — especially against Mo — but against all of our guys,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “We needed to stand up to that, and our guys did a nice job.”

Texas went straight at Ole Miss from the opening tip. The Longhorns’ starters came out firing, looking to punish the Rebels’ smaller lineup.

Bamba drew a foul on the opening possession while wrestling for position on the block. On the next possession, he motored into the paint and missed his first shot but corralled the rebound and laid it up amid the sea of arms around the rim.

Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski built on the early aggression, getting to the line twice in the first five minutes to give Texas an early 7-3 lead.

Roach picked up right where he left off after a career night against Iowa State on Monday.

Osetkowski skipped a pass outside after being double-teamed in the post, and Roach buried the open triple. Moments later, Roach connected on a second shot from three off a high screen, and Texas took a 15-10 lead over the Rebels.

But midway through the first half, Texas was briefly without its interior stopper as Bamba headed to the locker room to be evaluated for a left thigh injury.

Ole Miss took advantage of Bamba’s absence and began to close the gap, as sophomore forward Dominik Olejniczak rattled off 14 points in the first half.

Bamba soon returned, and the momentum shifted firmly back in Texas’ favor. With time winding down before the break, Roach found Osetkowski under the rim on a no-look assist for the and-one play. On the next possession, Coleman hit Osetkowski in the same spot, and Texas took a 33-28 lead — part of six straight points for Osetkowski.

Freshman guard Jase Febres connected on two threes, and Osetkowski converted a third layup as Texas pulled ahead by double-digits. Texas led 45-36 at halftime with two players already in double-figures.

On the opening play of the second half, Coleman dropped off a pass to Bamba under the rim for a two-handed slam. On the next two possessions, the Rebels sent Osetkowski and Bamba to the line to add to the Texas lead.

Roach then found a layup in transition, and Bamba pinned his defender for another easy dunk as Texas built a double-digit lead. By the 12-minute mark, the Longhorns’ second unit had ballooned the lead to 60-45.

Bamba added a few more rim-rocking slams and a highlight block as Texas coasted down the final stretch.

“We needed to get on a win streak,” Bamba said. “This was a very challenging team. But we see no reason why we can’t keep winning.”

Texas now sets its sights on the second half of Big 12 play, starting with a road game against Texas Tech on Monday. The Red Raiders have yet to lose at home this season.

“We wanted to get our mind right going back into conference,” Roach said of Saturday’s win. “Start the second half of conference on a new page, and just get on the road and get into it.”

Photo Credit: Angel Ulloa | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns took a break from their conference schedule on Saturday and hosted Ole Miss in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Here are five takeaways from Texas' 85-72 victory:

Roach continues shooting streak

Until a few weeks ago, junior guard Kerwin Roach II’s offensive specialty was scoring around the rim. He entered this season as a 30.3-percent 3-point shooter, but since returning from a hand injury, the junior has been lethal from range. In his return to the court against Texas Tech on Jan. 17, Roach drained multiple threes for just the second time in the season. He followed this performance up by exploding for a season-best of four threes on five attempts against Iowa State.

Roach has clearly gained confidence in his shot, and he converted on his first two threes in the early portion of the first half on Saturday against Ole Miss to boost the Longhorns’ offense. Roach now sits at a respectable 9-of-18 from deep in his last four games.

Bamba briefly leaves game with injury

Freshman center Mo Bamba quickly impacted the game with his rebounding. But during the early stages of the opening half, Bamba also left the court and headed to the locker room with a trainer. Bamba’s left thigh was evaluated during the time, per Texas.

He quickly returned to the hardwood and was inserted into the game with 9:52 left in the first half. Bamba played the remainder of the game without any struggle, dropping in a new career-high 25 points and hauling in 15 rebounds in just 28 minutes. Bamba’s shooting has improved as of late as he swished his only three of the day and knocked down 12-of-13 from the charity stripe.

Osetkowski’s offensive rebounding pays off

Dylan Osetkowski absolutely dominated from the low block on Saturday. The junior power forward finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Four of those rebounds occurred on the offensive end of the floor, and Osetkowski was easily able to get in position to grab boards as soon as a shot was launched.

Texas scored 14 second-chance points in the victory, and Osetkowski’s presence was a primary reason why the Longhorns were able to make the most out of their offensive possessions.

Texas struggles to stop post-hook, but adjusts

Although Bamba and Osetkowski dominated in the paint offensively, the Longhorns initially struggled with containing Ole Miss center Dominik Olejniczak. The 7-foot Polish big man dropped in 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half alone, often repeating the same move in the post.

His hook shot from down low was virtually unstoppable without a double-team, and it was a surprise Ole Miss didn’t use him more often. All but two of his points were in the first half, and the Rebels’ offense vanished during the second half when Olejniczak wasn’t frequently utilized. Olejniczak attempted just four field goals in the second half, none of which landed in the cylinder.

Longhorns continue to thrive at home

Big 12 play hasn’t been too kind to the Longhorns, as they entered Saturday with a conference record of 4–4. Texas (14–7) got four days off without traveling before the matchup with the SEC’s Ole Miss, and the Longhorns were able to coast to a 13-point victory over the Rebels.

The win marked Texas’ fourth consecutive home triumph, and head coach Shaka Smart’s team improved to 10–2 at the Frank Erwin Center this season. Although the Longhorns have consistently brought their A-game in Austin, this was their first double-digit win on their own hardwood since Dec. 16’s 75-60 final over Louisiana Tech.

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Less than two minutes into the game, junior guard Kerwin Roach II pulled up from beyond the arc at the Frank Erwin Center. 

Bucket. 

Then he launched another triple. Bucket. 

His next two threes? Both buckets.

Roach’s offensive surge has given the Longhorns a spark in both of the past two home games now. On Monday night, Roach bolstered Texas’ 73-57 win over Iowa State. 

Entering the matchup as a 29.5 percent 3-point shooter, Roach’s immaculate 4-of-4 shooting from deep in the first half lifted Texas to one of its best offensive showings of the season. Surprisingly, Roach’s recent breakthrough simultaneously lines up with his return from a fractured left hand.

“I’m a junior, so I’ve been playing the game for a while,” Roach said. “Just being out just burned that fire into me. The time I spent off, I did a lot of form shooting and got my mechanics together — just slowed down and took my time during my shots.”

The junior guard tied his career high with 22 points, but Texas was blessed with a second star on the offensive end — Mo Bamba. 

The freshman forward splashed onto the scene Monday by sinking a spot-up three and slamming multiple authoritative dunks over the Cyclones’ defense. Bamba posted a career-high 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in his strongest game at Texas.

“His motor has really improved,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s really responded better and quicker, when before, it just took him longer. I thought tonight was about as clean of a game as he’s played in terms of efficiency.”

Iowa State’s offense gathered some momentum in the second half and managed to strike as close as six points. But before the Cyclones could turn the corner, Bamba’s scoring swung the game back in the Longhorns’ favor. The future lottery pick nailed 9-of-11 shots on the night and refused to allow any easy baskets on the defensive end.

Texas relied on its defense in the closing moments. The Longhorns didn’t score a single point from the 6:24 mark until just 1:03 remained in the game. But the Cyclones hit a skid of their own, going scoreless over the last four minutes and 10 seconds. The final buzzer concluded a rare wire-to-wire Big 12 victory for Texas — good for a third-straight home win.

“We tried to go small the last couple minutes, and I don’t know if that was a factor with our rhythm because we don’t play that a lot,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “We were going to try to go small and see if we could cause some problems for them down the stretch. It wasn’t good for us.”

Both teams in this Big 12 clash fared very differently in their games this past Saturday. Texas suffered a 35-point demolition to a talented West Virginia team, while Iowa State breezed past then-No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. But the Longhorns and Cyclones trended in opposite directions when battling Monday night.

“It was a quick turnaround, but at the same time, we had to go into self-reflection mode and build off of what we could do better,” Bamba said. “Our motto coming into this was ‘somebody has to pay for it,’ and unfortunately for Iowa State it was them. The league is very competitive, and you definitely don’t want to go on a losing streak.”

Texas (13–7, 4–4 Big 12) hasn’t won consecutive games since mid-December. The Longhorns will get the opportunity to finally do so on their own hardwood on Saturday when they host a 10–9 Ole Miss squad in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.