AUSTIN, Texas – The second-half magic that helped Missouri to a four-game winning streak abandoned the Tigers in a 63-51 loss to Texas on Saturday.
The Longhorns hit their first six shots of the second half and used a 13-0 run to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 37-25 lead. Reserve guard Kenny Taylor helped quash any thoughts of a Missouri comeback, scoring 15 of his 20 in the final 20 minutes, including a crucial 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 1:53 left.
“I think we’re disappointed. We felt like we had our chances,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “You turn the ball over on four out of your first five possessions of the second half, and it’s really hard to win on the road. We’ve struggled at times with that.”
Turnovers and foul trouble plagued the Tigers on Saturday. Missouri had 19 turnovers and 28 fouls. Five players had four fouls and two more had three. Texas had 14 turnovers and 14 fouls.
“They scored one-third of their points from the free-throw line, a third of their points off turnovers and a third of their points on offense,” Snyder said.
Texas shot 30 free throws to Missouri’s 11.
“That’s just how it is sometimes on the road,” said Jason Conley, who led the Tigers with 15 points. “You’ve just got to play through it.”
Conley helped the Tigers to their largest lead midway through the first half. He took a feed from Jason Horton on a break and threw down a one-handed dunk as he was flattened by Texas guard Sydmill Harris. Conley went down in a heap, and Harris was called for the intentional foul. Jimmy McKinney made both free throws in Conley’s stead to put Missouri ahead 18-12.
“It was so quick, it happened so fast,” Conley said. “All I remember is I threw it at it, and I didn’t even see if it went in, and next thing I know I was going down hard. Then I looked up and Coach is standing over me. I don’t know how he got there so fast.”
Conley was not injured, returning to the game before halftime.
The Tigers, who outscored their opponents by at least nine in the second half three times during their four-game streak, were confident coming into the second half.
“There have been so many times where the second half is where we play our best,” Conley said. “We’re trying to make sure we do it all the time, it just didn’t happen today.”
But Texas freshman Daniel Gibson opened the half by picking Horton’s pocket and feeding Dion Dowell for an emphatic slam that brought the crowd of 10,164 to its feet. Missouri didn’t score until Linas Klieza’s layup 5:36 into the second half, but by that time the Longhorns had a double-digit lead.
The Tigers trimmed the Texas advantage to 57-49 with 2:50 left on a pair of free throws by Klieza, but less than a minute later Taylor delivered the dagger, a 3-pointer from the corner as the 35-second clock expired.
“That possession was really key for us,” Taylor said. “I was just trying to make a play, and I was lucky enough to get a shot off and it went in.”
Texas shot 18.8 percent in the first half and 70.6 percent in the second. Both marks were season extremes for the Longhorns.
“I thought our defense was really good,” Snyder said. “We played the on-ball screens well and disrupted them, but you know they’re going to shoot better. Taylor missed one in the first half and hit it from the same place. That’s going to happen; you just can’t give them the ball back.
“I thought our guys were ready to play, even in the second half, but it’s hard to look good when you’re giving over the ball. It’s hard to defend when you’re turning the ball over.”