AUSTIN (AP) – On a team that has only two seniors, Texas coach Shaka Smart needs to lean on his three sophomores.
They came through for him on Wednesday night. Tevin Mack scored 16 of his career-best 27 points in the second half, lifting Texas to an 82-79 victory over Oklahoma State.
Eric Davis Jr. scored 16 points for Texas — 14 in the second half. Kerwin Roach Jr. added 11 points, six assists and impressive defense.
“This is the first time (this season) where all three sophomores really played at a high level,” Smart said. “We needed that.”
Jeffrey Carroll led Oklahoma State (10-4, 0-2 Big 12) with a career-best 24 points. Jawun Evans added 19.
Mack made four 3-pointers. He scored eight points during a 15-0 push that gave Texas (7-7, 1-1) a 61-50 lead with 11:32 remaining in the game.
Evans brought Oklahoma State back with a 3-pointer and three free throws, leaving the Cowboys trailing by only four.
Then Davis went to work, making a driving shot and two 3-pointers for a 10-point lead with 3:21 left.
Davis made three free throws in the final 16 seconds for a six-point lead, making Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette’s 3-pointer just before the final buzzer irrelevant.
Oklahoma State led only 39-37 at halftime despite outshooting Texas 46.9 to 35.7 percent. Texas compensated for its poor accuracy from the field by taking advantage of Oklahoma State’s foul difficulty. The Cowboys were called for 14 fouls in the half, and Texas converted 14 of 17 free throws, an 82.4 percent mark that is much better than its 66.1 for the season.
“I think the game was decided in the first four minutes, when we committed seven fouls,” Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said.
Mack did not disagree about the impact of Oklahoma State’s early foul problems. “It was huge,” Mack said. “We knew from that point on that we could go and be really aggressive, not settle for 3s and just attack.”
Oklahoma State: First-year Cowboys coach Underwood’s team fell to 2-2 on the road, where they had played well this season, albeit in a small but encouraging sample of games with victories at Wichita State and Tulsa. Oklahoma State was 23-60 on the road the previous eight years under coach Travis Ford, including 1-9 last season.
Texas: Oklahoma State has used its aggressive full-court defense to force 20 turnovers a game, which ranks third nationally. Texas had to face that defense without a true point guard. Smart tried to sign one for his freshman class, but De’Aaron Fox — from Houston — picked Kentucky, and Alterique Gilbert is at Connecticut. Longhorns freshman Andrew Jones is trying to make the transition from combination guard to the point, and he has struggled at times with turnovers. But Texas committed only 11 against Oklahoma State — none by Jones. That enabled the Longhorns to score 16 fast-break points.
“We tried to stop them in transition,” Evans said. “But they got easy layups.”
Guard Kendal Yancy, one of the two seniors in Smart’s nine-player rotation, missed the game Wednesday after suffering an ankle injury at Kansas State on Friday. Yancy has started six games and averages 6.2 points in 18.5 minutes a game. Texas has not issued a timetable for his return. Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters missed the game with a neck injury. Waters started 12 games, averaging 7.2 points in 21.2 minutes. He is expected back soon, according to a team spokesman.
Oklahoma State: At Baylor Saturday night. Baylor swept two games from Oklahoma State last season.
Texas: At Iowa State on Saturday night. The Cyclones have won five of their last six against Texas.
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