KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Texas and Texas Tech played nearly 40 minutes to a near-standstill before Longhorns guard Courtney Ramey looked at backcourt mate Matt Coleman III and delivered a simple message.
“Yo, Matt,” Ramey said, “it’s time to go.”
Coleman responded with a finishing kick that has the Longhorns playing in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
The senior guard’s basket got his team within a point with less than a minute to go, then Coleman made the go-ahead free throws with 1.8 seconds left, allowing the No. 13 Longhorns to squeak out a 67-66 win over the No. 20 Red Raiders in the quarterfinal round Thursday night.
“Any time you play Tech, you know it’s going to be a grind game, both ways,” said Coleman, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “The most aggressive team usually wins.”
Jase Febres finished with 15 points, Andrew Jones added 11, and Jericho Sims and Kai Jones had 10 apiece for the Longhorns (18-7), who advanced to play No. 11 Kansas — the tournament’s second seed — in the semifinals Friday night.
“We could have cracked,” Febres said. “We could have folded plenty of times out there, got discouraged, but our coach continues to instill confidence in us and we just feed off that.”
The sixth-seeded Red Raiders led 66-61 before baskets by Kai Jones and Coleman got third-seeded Texas within a point with less than a minute to go. Texas Tech had a chance to push the lead back out, but Terrence Shannon Jr. was stripped on his drive to the basket by Brock Cunningham, giving the Longhorns a chance for the winning basket.
Andrew Jones missed the first try on a drive to the rim, and the loose ball on the rebound went to Coleman, who passed right back to Jones for a 3-pointer that bounced off the iron and out of bounds with 16.3 seconds left.
Texas coach Shaka Smart called timeout and drew up a play that put the outcome in Coleman’s hands. He drove to the basket and was fouled with 1.8 seconds left, and the senior from Norfolk, Virginia, calmly hit both free throws.
“He’s cool as a cucumber when pressure comes,” Smart said. “I had no doubt he was making those free throws.”
Shannon finished with 18 points to lead the Red Raiders. Kevin McCullar scored 11 and Marcus Santo-Silva had 10.
“I thought the tougher team was going to win tonight,” Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said, “and I thought Texas was the tougher team in the parts of the game that mattered most.”
Texas Tech (17-10) raced to a 17-7 lead in the opening minutes, taking advantage of some sloppy offense by the Longhorns that included three offensive fouls in a span of about three minutes. And when Smart’s team whittled the lead down to 23-22, the Red Raiders got three straight buckets to push it right back out.
The Longhorns had the final say in the first half, though.
Beginning with a dunk by Sims, they scored the final 12 points. Coleman hit a 3-pointer and made a nifty spinning layup, Febres added a 3 and Coleman’s buzzer-beating basket gave Texas a 34-30 halftime lead.
The Red Raiders regained the lead and pushed it back to 10 early in the second half, a stretch in which Mac McClung finally got his first field goal to go, but the Longhorns answered and the game became a back-and-forth tug-of-war.
At one point, Kai Jones buried a 3-pointer for Texas, Kyler Edwards answered at the other end for Texas Tech after missing his first five 3-point tries, and Febres followed with another 3 for the Longhorns — all of it in a span of 46 seconds.
It remained that close all the way all the way to the finish.
Texas Tech had no trouble getting to the foul line; once the Red Raiders were there was another story. They were just 12 of 20 on free throws, missing a series of them midway through the second half and allowing Texas to mount a comeback.
Texas was 11 of 26 from beyond the arc, turning almost exclusively to its veteran backcourt with star freshman Greg Jones limited to just two points in 13 minutes. Ramey also had a rough game, going 0 for 5 from the field.
Texas will play the second-seeded Jayhawks for a spot in the championship game Friday night.
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