Texas Basketball: Longhorns Find Spark, But Can't Complete Comeback Win
Down 14 and in danger of a second-straight embarrassing loss, Shaka Smark turned back to the trademark high-pressure defense that he trademarked at VCU, but the impressive comeback wasn't quite enough in a 69-67 loss in the Big 12-SEC Challenge game against LSU.
"Sometimes, you find yourself in a situation of 'hey there's nothing left to lose, I'm just going to go after it,'" Texas head coach Shaka Smart said of the team's defensive switch. "Obviously it was enough to build us a two-point lead, but then we didn't finish the game."
Texas turned the pressure dial up on the Tigers in the second half, erasing what had been a 16-point LSU lead and grabbing a 60-58 advantage with 4:16 to go in the game, but the Tigers made a defensive change of their own down the stretch, causing the Longhorns to go stagnant through a 13-6 LSU run at a crucial point in the game.
"I figured they were going to press," LSU head coach Will Wade said." If you've watched us this year that's one of the ways you get to it. We were prepared for it, but we couldn't get our lines right (during the Texas run)."
"It's internal effort," Texas' Andrew Jones said of the team's defensive cheme switch in the second half. "You can play any defense in the world. You can draw up any scheme, (but) it's about how hard you play."
After LSU stretched the lead to 30-20 with just over nine minutes to go in the first half, Texas mounted a run to cut the lead to five behind a layup from Donovan Williams and a 3-pointer from Andrew Jones.
However, the Tigers would flex their muscles again with a 7-0 run to extend the lead back out to 37-25 with 4:54 left to go in the first and finished out the half up 42-32.
LSU extended the lead to 52-36 early in the second half before the Longhorns made the decision to apply more pressure on defense. The strategy breathed new life into the Texas lineup.
Aided by turnovers and quick transitions, the Longhorns mounted a 20-6 run for the next x minutes. Sims scored a jumper in the paint, then Colemon found the basket.
Courtney Ramey's fast-break layup made it 54-48 with 8:24 to go in the game and brought the Frank Erwin Center crowd to its highest level of noise all day.
But the Longhorns weren't done yet. Andrew Jones scored the team's next nine points, including a 3-pointer that cut the lead to just one with 5:41 to go.
On the next Texas possession, Coleman hit another 3-pointer that gave Texas its first lead since the 16-minute mark of the first half at 58-56 with 4:52 left on the clock.
LSU would respond by cranking up pressure of its own to score 13 of the game's next 19 points and hold a two-possession lead inside of the game's final minute, forcing the Longhorns to foul.
"We weren't aggressive on offense or defense (down the stretch)," Jones said.
Jones led the Longhorns in scoring with 20 points. Coleman added 17 and Sims scored 14. Freshman Trendon Watford led LSU with 22.