Rickey Paulding will want to forget about Tuesday’s game quickly.
Although a large advantage on free throws kept Missouri close, Paulding’s crucial misses late prevented the Tigers from winning their second straight overtime game.
Texas held on for a 75-69 victory at Hearnes Center.
As the game neared its conclusion, Paulding lost his touch. Paulding, a senior guard, had two free-throw opportunities late in regulation to secure a win but could not hit.
With 2:30 left, Paulding, who had made 78 percent from the line, failed to complete a 3-point play that would have given the Tigers a 59-56 lead. Then with 1:11 left, he missed the first of two. A make would have given the Tigers (7-7, 2-2 Big 12 Conference) a 60-58 advantage.
Despite Paulding’s struggles from the line, Missouri coach Quin Snyder said it’s not something that should cause worry.
“We had a free-throw shooting contest in overtime that we lost,” Snyder said.
“I know Rickey doesn’t go 6-of-12 from the free-throw line often. He made a lot of great plays for us (Tuesday), too, but I just thought we did not get a break.”
Paulding, who missed two more free throws in overtime, finished 6-of-12. He, though, did not make excuses for the errant shooting.
“I just missed them,” Paulding said. “I don’t know if I was thinking about it too much. It was just one of those nights for me. I wish, I really wish it hadn’t come (Tuesday), but it was tough on me.”
As the Tigers faltered late, the Longhorns (12-2, 3-0) found the range.
In the overtime, the 14th-ranked Longhorns made all 10 of their attempts.
Royal Ivey, who entered the game as a 56 percent free-throw shooter, made 6-of-6 in the overtime.
The poor free-throw shooting reminded senior forward Travon Bryant of the Tigers’ most recent home loss to Texas, 72-70, on Feb. 17, 2002.
“Last time I remember him shooting like this it was against Texas our sophomore year,” Bryant said. “Same thing happened, we missed free throws down the stretch.
“Anytime you give up free points, it’s going to hurt you. It’s definitely frustrating the way we lost this one.”
Bryant, who made 4-of-4 free throws, also said he had never seen Paulding struggle this much from the foul line.
That said, sophomore guard Jimmy McKinney said he doesn’t expect to see a future poor shooting night from Paulding.
“They’ll work themselves out,” McKinney said. “It happens. That happens, but it doesn’t happen all the time, especially since it’s Rickey Paulding.”
With field goals hard to get because of Texas’ strong defense, the Tigers’ consistent source of points was the foul line.
Despite not scoring a field goal for nearly four minutes in the second half, the Tigers kept the game close with the Longhorns. In the span that began with 6:43 left, the Tigers made 6-of-8 free throws.
Senior center Arthur Johnson and freshman forward Linas Kleiza each made two, and senior forward Josh Kroenke and Paulding hit on 1-of-2. When the span ended, the Tigers had tied the score at 52.
The Tigers benefited from 22 fouls on the Longhorns in the second half and overtime.
They reached the bonus with 14:04 to play and the double bonus with 9:56 left.
The Tigers made 25-of-37 free throws while Texas connected on 15-of-19. Johnson made 6-of-7 from the line, and Kleiza hit on 6-of-8.
With 9:56 left and the Longhorns leading 42-37, the Tigers scored nine of the next 13 points from the free-throw line.