[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
It was a bit of an understatement, but it was accurate Tuesday night.
“It was a great college game,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought both teams played their hearts out and we just happened to get on the good end tonight.”
The game was a little better for Barnes’ Longhorns, who made more of their free throws down the stretch and prevailed 75-69 in overtime at Hearnes Center.
Texas guard Royal Ivey dominated the final minutes, scoring 10 of the Longhorns’ 14 points in overtime and finishing with a game-high 24. Missouri swingman Rickey Paulding’s 6-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line overshadowed his team-high 20 points.
Ivey was Texas’ focus in overtime, repeatedly drawing fouls and converting his free throws. Ivey went to the line six times in the extra period and made all six shots.
Paulding made 2-of-4 free throws in overtime, allowing an Ivey jumper over Missouri forward Linas Kleiza to put No. 16 Texas up 71-67 with 1:10 to play in overtime. Missouri center Arthur Johnson scored a layup on Missouri’s next possession, but an Ivey floater put the Longhorns up four again with 19 seconds left.
Missouri (7-7, 2-2 Big 12 Conference) looked desperate after that, and a forced Johnson jumper from the left corner was off the mark. Texas guard Kenny Taylor made two free throws to secure the win for the Longhorns (12-2, 3-0).
Ivey also led the Longhorns with six rebounds and five assists, drawing the praise of Barnes after the game.
“Roy’s been around a long time,” Barnes said. “The bigger the stakes, the better he is.”
Missouri shot 25-of-37 from the line for the game, and that topic was the focus after the game. Coach Quin Snyder declined to lay the blame solely on Paulding.
“We had some good shooters that just missed,” Snyder said. “I don’t think you can blame it on any one guy. We were in position to win this game.”
Paulding struggled to explain his free throw woes, finally saying that Tuesday might not have been his best night.
“It was tough for me tonight,” he said.
A win would have been Missouri’s first against the Longhorns since Feb. 27, 1999, but instead it became the Tigers’ sixth consecutive loss to Texas.
Ironically, Johnson’s strong defensive play led to overtime. Ivey drove to the basket through the right side and Johnson rotated over and blocked the shot, but the ball rebounded to Texas forward Brian Boddicker. He hit the 3-pointer to tie the game at 61. A Paulding 3-pointer at the buzzer was too strong, forcing overtime.
“Sometimes the breaks don’t go your way,” Snyder said. “If AJ doesn’t block that shot, even if the ball goes in, we’re up one with the ball with five seconds to play…
“I never thought I’d be disappointed that AJ blocked a shot.”
For many of the Tigers, it was another difficult break in a frustrating season.
“The season has gone like that a lot this year,” Missouri guard Randy Pulley said.
“We got a bad break, but there’s nothing we can do about that.”
Texas overcame 10-of-32 first-half shooting, finishing at 41 percent. Both defenses controlled the first half, but Missouri’s was dominant late, allowing Texas to score three points in the final 8:19.
The Longhorns went eight minutes without a point, a drought Ivey ended with a 3-pointer from the left wing at 1:20. Missouri had a 12-3 run to close the half and had a 25-22 lead at halftime.
Missouri guard Jimmy McKinney, whose aggressive defense was key in the run, said the Tigers proved something, even without a victory.
“It was a statement today, even though we didn’t win,” he said. “I think we really made a statement on the defensive end.”
Snyder often emphasizes the positives of each game, even if it ends in a loss. He was easily able to do so Tuesday, and he said it was clear to him that his Tigers have progressed rapidly in the past four days.
“I’m just pleased with the way we’re playing better basketball,” he said. “We put ourselves in position to win that game and if we keep playing like that we’ll win a few.”