AUSTIN (AP) — Texas had just taken a one-point lead with 5 seconds left when TCU’s Jaylen Fisher drove the lane and went up for what should have been easy layup at the buzzer for the win.
Only someway, somehow, the ball fell out and hit the floor.
The Longhorns beat the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs 99-98 in double overtime to earn their biggest win of the season, just after the Texas program was walloped with an emotional sledgehammer: sophomore guard Andrew Jones being diagnosed with leukemia.
As soon as the final horn sounded, tears welled in Texas coach Shaka Smart’s eyes and Jones’ teammates held up his jersey as they sang the “Eyes of Texas” with the home crowd.
“We got some real help from someone when that ball didn’t go in,” Smart said.
“Our guys really wanted to win for Andrew. He’s the one that’s been on our minds and in our hearts and I’m really proud of the way they fought. I hope Drew’s listening right now. I hope he knows we love him,” Smart said.
Texas got the victory after Jericho Sims made a free throw then missed the second. Sims was trying to defend Fisher when the smaller guard blew past him toward the basket.
“Man, I’m glad that didn’t go in,” Sims said.
Jones was Texas’ leading scorer until a wrist fracture sidelined him for several games in December. When he returned, he complained of being tired and hardly played. He missed a game last weekend at Baylor while undergoing tests.
Texas said Wednesday that Jones has started treatment but released no more details on his condition or his diagnosis.
“Andrew’s the best fighter on our team. He’s got a fight ahead of him. I know he’s really gonna fight. And our guys really fed off of his spirit tonight,” Smart said.
Without Jones and injured guard Kerwin Roach II, Texas used only seven players and four of them logged over 40 minutes. Forward Dylan Osetkowski played 49 minutes.
Before the game, the Texas players left an open seat on the bench with Jones’ jersey draped on the back. When it was over, Osetkowski and guard Eric Davis grabbed the jersey for the final song.
“It didn’t matter how long it would take. We wanted to get the win,” Osetkowski said. “Everybody left everything on the line tonight.”
Davis scored 22 points for Texas (11-5, 2-2 Big 12) and Osetkowski had 20. Sims finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Kenrich Williams scored 26 for the Horned Frogs (13-3, 1-3) but also fouled Sims on what would have been an offensive rebound to set up the winning free throw. TCU made 15 3-pointers but none in the second overtime. The final margin came down to the final shot from inches away.
“For percentage shots, I don’t think you could get one better,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
TCU had rallied from 13 points down in the second half and led 94-90 in the second overtime.
“This was special. A special moment,” Davis said.
TCU: The Horned Frogs have been in a dogfight in every Big 12 game and all three losses have been by four points or less. They will have to start winning these to get themselves out of the bottom of the Big 12 after such a strong start to the season.
“Defense is our problem right now, we know it,” Dixon said. “That’s our mission going forward. This league is going to be games like this. Our problem is we’ve been on the bad side of three of them.”
Texas: The Longhorns got a big win but face a tough season without Jones. He was a leader and his presence will be missed on the court and in the locker room in a season that was supposed to be a big turnaround from a last-place finish in the Big 12. Smart will be leaned on not just as a coach, but as a father figure to pull his team through the season.
Smart had told his players about Jones’ diagnosis Tuesday night.
“Leaving that meeting. Guys weren’t just in tears, they were wailing. I said we’ve got to support these guys and be there for them. We didn’t know what was going to happen today,” Smart said.
Longhorns freshman Matt Coleman played the kind of game Texas has been desperate to get from a point guard for two years: active on defense, fluid on offense and a clear eye for the open man and unselfish enough to keep giving it to him over and over again. Coleman finished with 17 points and 12 assists. He and Sims connected on several easy dish-and-dunks in the first half.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this easy. We just kept going to it,” Coleman said.
Davis actually set up the foul that led to Sims’ winning free throws by poking a loose ball to where he could grab it. Smart said he’d shown his team a video clip during the week of nearly the same play against TCU last year when Williams got the ball, TCU scored to take a lead and went on to win. This time, Texas won the ball and the game.
“Coach kept playing it and I really didn’t get it until the game,” Davis said.
TCU plays at No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Texas plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
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