Austin (KXAN) — Texas No. 10 lost at halftime for the second straight game at the Moody Center on Saturday, but as the cliché goes, the comeback was bigger than the loss.
The Longhorns rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the second half to beat Texas Tech 72–70 to give the Red Raiders their fifth consecutive Big 12 Conference loss. Texas returned from an 18-point deficit against No. 17 TCU on Wednesday to win, with Jabari Rice once again sealing the win from the foul line.
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“I’m trying to do whatever the team wants me to do,” Rice said. “We just needed to make more stops defensively to create an attack. We moved the ball and everything clicked.”
As Texas held a 66–63 lead with 0:21 seconds left, Rice calmly walked to the foul line and hit five free throws, each time returning a Texas Tech bucket to keep the Longhorns ahead, similar to what he did against the Horned Frogs.
“He’s a winner and a tough guy,” Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams said of Rice. “He has that unique fake shot that we’ve been talking about all week and he’s caught it for us a couple of times. He comes off the bench, gives them a lot of energy and plays hard.”
The Red Raiders did not give up without a fight. Pop Isaacs and De’Vion Harmon hit big 3s with less than 30 seconds left in the game, but Texas made enough from the free throw line to hold on, going 9 of 11 in the final at 1:37.
“We knew we were going to have a well-prepared team ready to play at a high level,” said Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry. “This is a team with a track record that is impossible to underestimate and they could easily have had three wins instead of five losses.”
Texas Tech had a big lead on the boards, 40-32, and Terry challenged the team at halftime when they had a nine-point lead.
“We knew we were going to get their best games in terms of how hard they would play,” Terry said. “We needed to play more assertively and make more decisive moves. We’re a little shy to start the game and we want to play attacking on both ends of the floor.”
In the second half, the Longhorns shot nearly 52% from the field, shooting 14 of 27 shots, leading to a comeback victory. In the first half, Texas had just 9 of 26 and 2 of 13 from three-point range. The difference in attack from the first half to the second was evident only in these figures.
One of Texas’ six 3-point shots in the second half came from senior quarterback Brock Cunningham. These were his only points in the game, but the decisive blow came at just the right time for Texas. With 1:06 left in the game, with the Longhorns clinging to a 60-58 lead, Carr found a Cunningham wide open and Westlake’s product converted a key-top shot to extend the lead to several possessions.
Before Isaacs made a 3-pointer with 31.2 seconds left, Texas Tech hadn’t taken the field in the previous 4:07. An out-of-bounds call that was originally made in Texas was canceled on review to give the Red Raiders extra possession, and Isaacs delivered.
Carr led Texas with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting with six rebounds and three assists. Rice scored 18 points and was 8 out of 10 from the foul line. Timmy Allen scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting for the Longhorns and he gave the team a shot at life early in the second half to help a key streak that got them back in the game.
“We have a team with a lot of great players,” Carr said. “When a guy like Timmy gets into the rhythm, he can get us going.”
Texas blocked eight shots, Dylan Disu led with four, and the Longhorns had 7 interceptions. Texas barely led the battle for turnover, forcing 15 and recording 14.
Isaacs led all scorers with 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting and 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range. Harmon had 13 points and Farvads Aimak had 12 points for the Red Raiders.
Texas (15-2, 4-1 Big 12 Conference) heads to Ames, Iowa for a key Big 12 game against the Iowa Cyclones on Tuesday. Texas Tech (10-7, 0-5) will play Baylor at home on Tuesday.