AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—It was Senior Day at Texas so it was only natural Brandon Mouton would have a big game.
Throw in a huge assist from freshman P.J. Tucker and the 10th-ranked Longhorns escaped with a 74-71 victory over No. 25 Texas Tech, setting up a Big 12 title showdown with conference co-leader Oklahoma State. The sixth-ranked Cowboys (22-3, 12-2) beat Baylor 72-65 Saturday.
Mouton scored 17 points Saturday and Tucker added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Longhorns (21-4, 12-2). They also combined to hit four free throws over the final 28 seconds to protect the lead.
“I was thinking we’ve got to have them,” Tucker said. “I’ve got hit both of them. The game was on the line.”
The last home game for Mouton and fellow seniors Brian Boddicker, Royal Ivey and James Thomas, the nucleus of Texas’ rise to national prominence under coach Rick Barnes, set up as big sendoff before a sellout crowd of 16,837.
“It’s hard to believe four years has come and gone,” Barnes said.
But after a pre-game ceremony, the group played more like nervous freshmen than experienced veterans in the opening minutes.
Boddicker airballed his first shot and the seniors started the game 2-of-11 from the field as the Red Raiders built a 21-15 lead.
“Sometimes that happens,” Mouton said. “But the good thing is that we bounced back, kept our game plan and started feeding off each other.”
Ivey and Boddicker then scored six straight points for the Longhorns and Kenny Taylor’s 3-pointer tied it at 26. Mouton hit another 3-pointer and converted a layup off a long bounce pass from Ivey on a fast break and Texas led 33-30 at halftime.
Mouton and Taylor hit three 3-pointers as Texas built the lead to 10 in the second, the last time at 56-46 on a layup by Tucker with 8:58 left.
Tech (19-9, 7-7) steadily whittled away at the deficit as Andre Emmett scored 11 of his game-high 21 points over the final 5 minutes. His short jumper made it 70-68 before Tucker got to the foul line with 27 seconds left.
Barnes said his freshman has learned from the seniors all season and thrives in pressure situations.
“The bigger it is, the better some guys will like it,” Barnes said. “He wants it there.”
Tucker, who had missed two of his previous three free throws, knocked down both for a four-point lead.
“We wanted to foul Tucker and we did and he hit both free throws,” Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said. “It’s maybe the two biggest points of the game. The kid really needs a pat on the back for having done that.”
Tech wasn’t finished. Emmett hit a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 72-71 before the Red Raiders were forced to foul Mouton with 14 seconds left.
Mouton, who has hit dozens of big shots in his career—including the game-tying 3-pointer in an overtime win over Tech earlier this season— admitted he was a “little nervous” but swished both free throws.
“We had the lead and the ball,” he said. “I feel confident in myself and my team in situations like that.”
Tech pushed the ball upcourt and got it to Emmett near the top of the arc. He misfired a 3-pointer, got the rebound and took it out to the corner where he launched a last shot that bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
The Red Raiders, who enjoyed a 12-game winning streak in December and January, now have lost seven of their last 10 games and have just two left to try to finish at .500 or better in the Big 12.