AUSTIN, Texas — There was just 1.9 seconds left on the clock, and not much time for Texas to do more than catch the ball and hurl it toward the basket.
And that’s exactly what the Longhorns did — to win the game and shock No. 22 Kansas State, 67-64, on Tuesday night at the Erwin Center.
(Texas’ Jonathan Holmes, right, watches his game-winning 3-pointer over Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson at the buzzer to beat the Wildcats on Tuesday night in Austin, Texas. Texas won 67-64).
Texas found Jonathan Holmes open in front of the Longhorns’ bench where he caught a pass and released a high-arcing shot in the face of K-State’s Thomas Gipson for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer as time expired.
With a chance to force overtime against a Texas team that had just had a key player foul out, the Wildcats had no chance to stop the quick play that Holmes pulled off, even with Gipson’s left hand in his face.
“At the end, that’s just a part of the game,” said Gipson, who had a career-high 24 points in the loss. “We all fought and played hard and tried to at least go into overtime, but he made a tough shot, and that’s good for him.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber, clearly frustrated by his own team’s night on both ends of the floor, complimented the Longhorns’ hero as he passed him in the hall after the game, saying with a handshake, “Hey big fella, nice shot.”
“It was a good ballgame,” Weber said. “You’ve got to give them credit, they made some plays down the stretch. Obviously, a big shot by Holmes. They just ran Holmes out, I couldn’t really see it, there were people in the way, but I guess he just popped out and hit a shot.”
The Wildcats (14-5, 4-2 Big 12) had led by three late in the second half after holding the Longhorns without a field goal for more than five minutes.
It was chance for the Wildcats to put Texas away. Instead it was a missed opportunity, because even though K-State was ahead, the Wildcats missed eight shots during the five-minute stretch, several just a few feet away from the basket.
That allowed the Longhorns (15-4, 4-2) to stay in the game and eventually take the lead at 59-58 with 3:25 to play. Texas would lead by as many as four points in the final minute of the game.
K-State climbed back with a jumper from Will Spradling, but then Shane Southwell missed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left that would have tied the game.
“We had our chances,” Weber said. “Jevon (Thomas) had a layup (blocked), Gip had some little ones inside (he missed). To win on the road, in this league, you’re going to have to be extra special and do all of your things well.”
K-State would foul Javan Felix on the Longhorns’ inbounds play to send him to the line, but he too missed both free throws.
Southwell then had a chance to redeem himself when he took the feed on the rebound and attacked the basket at the other end, making an off-balance layup with 5 seconds remaining to tie the game at 64.
Texas called a timeout with just 3 seconds to play, setting up a play, but as soon as the Longhorns inbounded the ball, they called another timeout.
“The first one Holmes was under the basket and Isiah (Taylor) missed him,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “The second time, Jon just slipped it, made a great read. He did a great job, he really did stay with his shot.”
Gipson said some of the confusion for K-State was that it expected Felix to get the ball instead.
Felix, who led the Longhorns with 23 points, was stuck in the same corner that Holmes shot from on the first attempt of the play.
Felix had already come up big for the Longhorns in the final minute of the game, hitting a long jumper over the head of Thomas at the end the shot clock with 58 seconds to go.
“I was expecting Felix to get it, but it surprised me when Holmes got open,” Gipson said. “I think they ran that a year ago too, to go into overtime in another game. Holmes is a good player and he stepped up and made a shot.”
On the Wildcats’ part, they attacked the Longhorns’ big posts, which were expected to be in Texas’ favor, throughout the contest, and did so with success. Gipson was 10-of-18 shooting from the field with five rebounds.
The Longhorns got 18 points out of big man Cam Ridley, who fouled out in the final few minutes, and eight points from Holmes.
Weber thought Gipson held his own.
“He’s going against two big old bodies there,” he said. “When he was patient, he was good. The only thing I wish he could have faked more, and got to the foul line. We didn’t get to the free-throw line.”
K-State trailed 36-32 at halftime, and ended the first frame with a basket from Gipson at the buzzer off a pass from Thomas, who had four assists.
Southwell was the only other player in double figures for the Wildcats, scoring 13. including 11 in the second half alone.
In what has been a rarity under Weber, the Wildcats won the rebounding battle, 36-35, but still lost.
K-State returns to action Saturday when it travels to Ames, Iowa, to face the Cyclones at 12:30 p.m.