AUSTIN (AP) – Game by game, the Texas’ Longhorns season is getting more and more desperate.
Aching for a big win to turn their sinking season around, the Longhorns lost another close game, 67-66 to No. 4 Missouri on Monday night.
And once again, Texas rallied only to give away a late lead and missed the potential winner at the buzzer. The Longhorns (13-9, 3-6 Big 12) have lost five of their last six and are 0-7 this season in games decided by six points or fewer.
“Every guy in that locker room wants to win,” freshman guard Myck Kabongo said.
Kabongo had the ball with a chance to win it for the Longhorns. After Michael Dixon’s layup with 31 seconds left gave Missouri (20-2, 7-2) the lead, Texas worked the ball around the perimeter trying to find Brown, their leading scorer who scored 34 against the Tigers on Jan. 14.
But Missouri’s zone defense wouldn’t give Brown the shot and the ball fell to Kabongo to make a play.
Kabongo short-armed his baseline jumper from about 10 feet and the rebound fell to Missouri’s Marcus Denmon with 1 second left to seal the victory.
After the game, Texas coach Rick Barnes said officials didn’t call a foul on the Tigers’ Matt Pressey who had slapped Kabongo’s left, non-shooting arm on the final shot.
“He did get fouled,” Barnes said.
Dixon’s winning shot came after he nearly cost his team the game.
Texas had rallied from 13 down early in the second half to pull to 65-62. Dribbling the ball at midcourt, Dixon was whistled for a flagrant foul when he swung an elbow and hit Julien Lewis in the face. Lewis made both free throws to cut the lead to one and Brown’s leaning bank shot put Texas up 66-65.
Dixon then did what Missouri had done all game: He drove at the basket and his high, banking layup over Jaylen Bond dropped in to put Missouri on top.
Brown scored 20 points, Lewis had 12 and Kabongo finished with 10 for the Longhorns. Texas outrebounded Missouri 38-26, but a ragged offense didn’t have an assist on offense in the first half and the Longhorns were just 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.
Missouri seemed to have the game in control when it opened the second half with a flurry. Dixon was the catalyst, making three straight baskets over Brown and Kim English made a 3-pointer to push the Tigers’ lead to 36-29.
“I basically gave up half his points,” a dejected Brown said. “It starts with me. I have to go out there and be a better defender than I was today.”
Brown, who has struggled badly shooting at home, started finding his touch and kept Mizzou from pulling away. Brown and Phil Pressey matched each other’s 3s and Brown added a driving layup and a free throw cut the Tigers’ lead to 46-43 with just under 11 minutes to play.
The Longhorns trailed 50-48 with a chance tie or take the lead when Pressey picked the ball from Kabongo, who had opted not to shoot an open 3-pointer and then was whistled for a flagrant foul. Pressey made both free throws.
Missouri had another chance to slam the door on Texas but couldn’t. Ricardo Ratliff made a tough layup, then finished a three-point play after a steal by English. A 3-pointer by English with 4:43 to play put the Tigers ahead 63-53 before Texas rallied again behind Brown and Kabongo.
“It shows we have fight,” Kabongo said. “For some reason, they aren’t turning into wins right now. One thing I know about this team and this group of guys is they are not going to back down.”
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