Texas guard Demarcus Holland hadn’t done a whole lot for the first 34 minutes, but he came through with two late, clutch plays Tuesday night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Holland, a freshman from Garland Naaman Forest, helped slow a late TCU run and then put the game out of the Horned Frogs’ reach with a 3-pointer from the corner with a minute remaining.
The Longhorns (12-14, 4-9 Big 12) held on for a 68-59 win in front of about 3,500 in attendance to pick up their first Big 12 road win this season.
TCU (10-16, 1-12) trailed 52-50 with 6:19 remaining after rallying from a 12-point deficit. Devonta Abron laid up a rebound to draw the Frogs to within two. But Holland, who finished with nine points, pushed the lead back up to 55-50 after completing a three-point play on a layup and a foul.
After Nate Butler-Lind missed the front of a one-and-one, Myck Kabongo hit Connor Lammert streaking down the court for an acrobatic reverse layup and a foul. The free throw gave Texas a 58-50 lead with 5:30 left.
“I was super surprised [the layup] went in. I think the whole rest of the stadium was too,” said Lammert, who had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. “I was falling out of bounds, so I just threw it up. It was a good feed by Myck. It was an interesting play.”
But TCU, playing its best game since upsetting Kansas on Feb. 6, didn’t go away quietly. Kyan Anderson answered with a 3-pointer. Later, Anderson fed Garlon Green for a dunk to keep the Frogs’ deficit at five, 60-55, with 4:08 remaining. Both teams, which are among the worst nationally in field goal shooting, had uncharacteristically hot hands. TCU shot 45.7 percent from the field, its first Big 12 game shooting 40 percent or better. Texas, which entered the game shooting 40.6 percent, was 50 percent from the field.
“In terms of league play, I thought we were as efficient offensively as we are all year,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “I think the big key was they made plays when they needed to make them, whether it was defensively, whether it was offensively.”
The biggest, perhaps, was Holland’s 3 from the corner as the shot clock was winding down. Abron had just cut Texas’ lead to 64-59 at the 2:16 mark. Lammert missed on a 3, but Jonathan Holmes grabbed the offensive rebound to extend the possession. Kabongo hit Holland in the corner for the 3-pointer to give the Longhorns an eight-point lead with 1:07 left.
“I was really happy for him to make that shot,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “The byproduct of Myck [being back] is just getting guys down the floor. I used to have to yell, scream every single time. He knows it, what needs to happen.”
Sheldon McClellan, Texas’ leading scorer, played less than a minute and had no points. Barnes said his health was not an issue. Ioannis Papapetrou led the ’Horns with 15 points and made 4 of 8 3-pointers.
Green led the Frogs with 15 points. Anderson scored 10 and dished out a career-high 8 assists for the second consecutive game.
Kabongo, who started his third game after serving a 23-game NCAA suspension, finished with 12 points and seven assists. He had eight points in the first half to help Texas build a 33-25 halftime lead. With TCU attempting its comeback in the final four minutes, Kabongo converted two free throws and converted a spinning, driving layup to preserve the ’Horns’ lead.
“Kabongo makes a big difference,” Johnson said. “He puts a lot of pressure on you. We’ve known all year long our margin of error is extremely slim so we have to play close to perfect. It’s really hard. This is painful. It hurts because we played well at times, and we just can’t get a break when we need a break.”
TCU next plays at ninth-ranked Kansas (21-4, 10-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday.