Coming off the bench, Justin Mason led Texas to a comeback win. As a result, coach Rick Barnes is reinstating the sophomore guard into starting lineup.
Mason will try to give the 19th-ranked Longhorns another lift Monday when they visit Oklahoma State for the first time since last season’s triple-overtime thriller.
Texas (14-3, 1-1 Big 12) opened conference play with a 97-84 loss at Missouri on Jan. 12, and seemed to be headed for another defeat in Saturday’s Big 12 home opener against Colorado. The Longhorns trailed by 13 early in the second half, but rallied to win 69-67.
With the game tied at 43 with just more than 15 minutes remaining, Mason had two blocks and a steal in successive possessions leading to six points for the Longhorns.
“(Mason) has struggled … (but) he was the difference in the game today,” Barnes said. “He came out and played like a junkyard dog.”
Mason finished with just two points, but also had a career-high four blocks and grabbed six rebounds. The sophomore had averaged 10.2 points in his first 10 games, but is averaging just 1.6 points in his last seven.
He was relegated to the bench before conference play began, but Barnes said Mason’s hustle has earned him a spot in the starting lineup against Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns won two of three meetings with the Cowboys last season, including a 69-64 victory in the conference tournament semifinals. Texas’ only loss was a dramatic 105-103, triple-overtime game on Jan. 16, 2007 in Stillwater, as Oklahoma State forward Mario Boggan hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left.
Texas leading scorer D.J. Augustin averaged 17.7 points in the three games against Oklahoma State last season.
The Cowboys (10-7, 1-2) dropped their second straight conference game Saturday, falling 73-66 at Iowa State. Oklahoma State led the Cyclones by 10 early in the game, but got outscored 38-26 after halftime.
“We know we can go out and win; we just have to make that extra push,” said Cowboys guard Obi Muonelo, who had 16 points. “When we get a team down, we have to step on their throat and smash them. We had plenty of opportunities in the second half, but just didn’t capitalize.”
Terrel Harris finished with 17 points on Saturday after scoring 23 in last Tuesday’s 79-71 loss at Baylor. However, the junior guard has scored just six points in his last two home games.
Oklahoma State is 9-0 at home this season, including a 74-55 victory over Texas Tech in its Big 12 opener on Jan. 12. The Cowboys went 6-2 in conference home games in 2006-07.
Texas, meanwhile, is 2-1 on the road this season, including a 63-61 win over then-No. 2 UCLA on Dec. 2 at Pauley Pavilion.