AUSTIN (AP) — When his chance came to make a critical play, Matt Coleman did not have time to think about all of his missed shots and turnovers.
He just drove toward the basket and hit a shot in the lane with nine seconds remaining, enabling Texas to escape an upset attempt by Tennessee State 47-46 on Monday night.
Coleman, a freshman point guard, had missed seven of his previous eight shots and committed six turnovers. He finished with four points and seven assists.
But when the big moment came?
“Just reacting,” Coleman said.
After Coleman’s basket, Tennessee State’s Delano Spencer rushed a long shot, missing the rim, with time left to maneuver for a closer attempt.
Dylan Osetkowski led Texas with 16 points, including back-to-back baskets late in the game, and Kerwin Roach II scored 12 for Texas (8-3).
Christian Mekowulu led Tennessee State (5-5) with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Spencer scored all 11 of his points in the second half after attempting just three shots before the break, largely while hounded defensively by Roach. Spencer’s 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 46-45 lead with 1:26 left.
Tennessee State hurt itself with 25 turnovers, several against Smart’s trademark full-court pressure defense.
Texas converted only 3 of 21 3-point shots (14.3 percent) and committed 17 turnovers against a zone defense in which Tennessee State left some Longhorns wide open.
“They literally weren’t guarding some of those guys on the perimeter,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said.
Said Tennessee coach Dana Ford, “We really packed it in.”
Texas played its third straight game without injured guard Andrew Jones, its leading scorer with 15.3 a game and best 3-point shooter.
“It has been a big adjustment,” Roach said.
Even with Jones, the Longhorns have to rely on one of the better defenses in the country to create scoring opportunities.
“We need to get a stop and get out in transition,” Coleman said. “Some easy offense.”
Tennessee State: This team that nearly beat Texas lost its season opener at Kansas 92-56.
The game at Texas was the third of six consecutive the Tigers play on the road between Dec. 2 and Dec. 31. Texas was the first against a school from a Power 5 conference during this stretch, and next the Tigers are at No. 16 Purdue on Thursday. Ford was pleased with the effort against Texas.
“I thought our guys competed hard,” Ford said. “I’m really proud of our players.”
Texas: Eleven games into the season, the Longhorns are a still a miserable shooting team. They rank last in the 10-team Big 12 in 3-point and free throw shooting accuracy, at 27.9 and 61.4 percent, respectively. They rank near the bottom nationally as well. …Texas missed its first 11 3-point attempts before Roach made two in row late in the first half. Coleman committed just seven turnovers in the first nine games. He has 10 in the last two games.
“A lack of poise from Matt,” Smart said. “He’d been really good early in the year. Right now he’s not in the moment with the pass and the play that he’s making. That’s why he’s got 10 turnovers in the last two games.”
Osetkowski has averaged 18.2 points in his last five games. His mark of 15.2 for season ranks second on the team.
Tennessee State is at No. 16 Purdue on Thursday.
Texas is faces Alabama in Birmingham on Friday.
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