Shot drives Horns by Hogs

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - SCOT­TIE BORDELON

TEXAS 73, ARKANSAS 71, OT

EL PASO, Texas — Texas Longhorns guard Ker­win Roach kicked off his se­nior sea­son the best way he knew how.

Sus­pended for the Longhorns’ sea­son opener against Eastern Illi­nois on Tues­day, Roach scored a team-high 18 points and hit a three-pointer with one sec­ond to play in reg­u­la­tion to force over­time in a 73-71 vic­tory over the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs on Fri­day night in the Armed Forces Clas­sic.

The Univer­sity of Arkansas led 63-60 fol­low­ing a Daniel Gaf­ford free throw with nine sec­onds re­main­ing, but Roach hit deep a three-pointer in front of the Texas bench. Ra­zor­backs Coach Mike An­der­son said there were no de­fen­sive break­downs that al­lowed the Longhorns guard to get the shot off.

“Good play­ers make good plays, and he’s a good player,” An­der­son said. “A se­nior

made a play for them. He made a big, big shot. But we had op­por­tu­ni­ties to put it away, and that’s go­ing to be the next learn­ing curve is how do we ex­e­cute and fin­ish the game off.”

The three-pointer to force over­time ap­peared im­prob­a­ble, given Texas’ sec­ond-half strug­gles on the of­fen­sive end. Prior to Roach’s score, Texas had made 4 of 25 shots (16 per­cent) and 2 of 10 at­tempts from three-point range. Only four Longhorns scored in the sec­ond half, and Roach was the lone player in dou­ble fig­ures with 11 points.

In over­time, Texas fresh­man guard Court­ney Ramey’s floater off the glass gave the Longhorns a 72-71 lead with 47 sec­onds to play. Fol­low­ing a three-point at­tempt by Ra­zor­backs sopho­more Ma­son Jones missed and Texas made 1 of 2 free throws with 21 sec­onds left, Arkansas’ Jalen Har­ris could not con­nect on a jumper and Jones missed again as the buzzer sounded and the Texas-heavy crowd packed tightly into Soto Gym cheered.

“It’s one game,” An­der­son said. “It isn’t the end of the sea­son, but at the same time you’ve got to learn and grow from it. Some­times grow­ing up in painful, and this is one of those when you’re on the big stage and you’ve got the op­por­tu­nity to pull a game off that no one thought you could win. We’ve just got to learn from it. That’s all.”

Gaf­ford led all scor­ers with 20 points and also col­lected 12 re­bounds. He also fin­ished with six turnovers and was 4 of 9 at the free throw line. As a team, Arkansas shot 13 of 24 (54 per­cent) at the free throw line, in­clud­ing 3 of 6 in over­time.

“We’ve just got to keep play­ing how we play and make more free throws,” said Har­ris, who scored 11 points on 3-of-12 shoot­ing to go with 5 re­bounds, 4 as­sists and 3 steals. “[An­der­son] told us to keep our heads up. You win some and you lose some, but don’t let this one carry over to the next one.”

The Ra­zor­backs led by eight points early in the first half as Har­ris, Jones, Isa­iah Joe and Gaf­ford each scored in the open­ing 3:24. Mean­while, Texas strug­gled of­fen­sively early, miss­ing on 6 of 7 shots af­ter a Roach jumper to open the scor­ing. But the Longhorns re­sponded with a 22-2 run to lead by 12 with nine min­utes left in the first half.

Five Texas play­ers — Roach, Court­ney Ramey, Dy­lan Osetkowski, Ka­maka Hepa and Eli­jah Mitrou-Long — com­bined to make six of the Horns’ next seven three-point shots. Joe, who fin­ished with 17 points on 5-of-8 from three­p­oint range for Arkansas, and Jones then con­nected on backto-back threes and fresh­man Desi Sills added an­other as part of a late push to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 36-30 at half­time.

“We kind of let them just move the ball around, and all of a sud­den they were spot­ting up,” An­der­son said. “It was like a pass­ing drill out there, and then I thought we got more en­ergy on the de­fen­sive end. … What I was glad to see was even when Texas went up dou­ble fig­ures, our guys stayed the course and got con­nected de­fen­sively.”

Arkansas lim­ited Texas to 5-of-26 shoot­ing in the sec­ond half and forced nine turnovers. But missed op­por­tu­ni­ties at the free throw line late and Roach’s hero­ics led to a heart­break­ing sea­son opener for the Ra­zor­backs.

“It’s a great les­son, a valu­able les­son,” Roach said. “Last year we had 17 games that went down to the fi­nal minute and we lost nine of them, so now we’re hop­ing to flip that ra­tio. We stepped up and made our free throws and made big­times shots and closed out the game the way we should.”

SUN BELT MEN ABI­LENE CHRIS­TIAN 94, ARKANSAS STATE 73

Ty Cock­field scored a team-high 24 points on 9-of-15 field goal shoot­ing, but it wasn’t enough as Arkansas State Univer­sity fell to Abi­lene Chris­tian on Fri­day in the sea­son opener for both teams in Abi­lene, Texas.

JJ Matthews added 15 points for the Red Wolves af­ter go­ing 7-of-7 from the floor.

ASU shot 44 per­cent (26 of 59) from the floor as a team, in­clud­ing 6 of 17 three-point­ers, and shot 63 per­cent (15 of 24) from the free throw line.

Abi­lene Chris­tian shot 56 per­cent (31 of 55) from the floor and hit 8 of 14 three-point­ers, as well as 24 of 31 free throws. The Wild­cats out­re­bounded the Red Wolves 40-29 and forced ASU to com­mit 16 turnovers, which they con­verted into 19 points.

Se­nior guard Jaylen Franklin (Lit­tle Rock Parkview) led Abi­lene Chris­tian with 24 points on 10-of-12 shoot­ing from the floor. Jaren Lewis scored 18 points and grabbed 15 re­bounds — 11 de­fen­sive — for the Wild­cats, while Payten Ricks had 12 points and Jalone Fri­day added 11.

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