HOUSTON (AP)—The youthful Texas Longhorns took a big step on Sunday night.
A.J. Abrams hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 left in overtime to give Texas the lead and the Longhorns went on to beat No. 9 LSU 76-75 in a thrilling rematch of last year’s NCAA regional final that also went to overtime.
“I told our team last night, ‘You know, you haven’t done anything yet,”’ Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I said, ‘You get a chance to play a Top Ten team. Let’s embrace it.’ They didn’t flinch.”
Damion James of Texas (6-2) missed two free throws with 17 seconds left in overtime and his team leading by one, giving the Tigers (5-2) a chance for the win.
After an LSU timeout, Garrett Temple’s 3-point attempt from the head of the key bounced off the front of the rim and James grabbed the loose ball for the rebound as time expired.
Texas starts four freshmen and a sophomore and has nine underclassmen on the roster. They played their best game against the toughest opponent they’ve faced so far. The seven Texas freshmen who played scored 65 percent of the Longhorns’ points.
“There comes a point where you’ve got to do something,” Barnes said. “I’m happy for a lot of guys who struggled to this point. We made some good things happen tonight.”
Temple hit a 3 with 21 seconds left to make it 68-68, the final tie of regulation and the 13th of the game.
Abrams’ 3 that made it 76-75 was his second of the 5-minute overtime.
D.J. Augustin had 25 points for the Longhorns, who won their third straight game against a Top Ten team. Augustin, a freshman from New Orleans, set a career high in front of about 30 family members and another 50 from his high school.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice and we’re going to keep working hard and try to keep winning,” he said.
Freshman Kevin Durant had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Texas, while James had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Tasmin Mitchell had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers, while Glen Davis finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds after a sluggish first half.
The teams went to overtime for the third time in their last four meetings. LSU beat Texas 70-60 in overtime in last year’s Atlanta regional final to advance to the Final Four.
LSU struggled against Texas’ 2-3 zone, shooting 35.5 percent (27-of-76) from the field, including 29.6 percent from 3-point range (8-of-27).
“We knew Texas was going to play a lot of zone and at some point, you’ve got to make a basket or two outside of six or eight feet,” LSU coach John Brady said. “We weren’t able to score from the perimeter. But we hit enough big shots to put ourselves in position to win the game.”
The Tigers led for most of the first half, but Texas mounted a late 9-0 run to tie the game 35-35 at halftime.
LSU outrebounded Texas 22-15 in the first half, but committed nine turnovers. Mitchell had 16 points and six rebounds at the break while Davis, LSU’s leading scorer and rebounder coming into the game, had only three points and two rebounds.
The Longhorns opened the second half in a man-to-man defense and Davis immediately scored on an easy layup and a putback. Texas returned to the zone and went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 44-42 lead.
The Tigers went 5-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half, then missed their first seven 3-point attempts after the break. But LSU grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the second half and Davis’ dunk put the Tigers up 52-51.
The teams were tied five times and the lead changed hands four times over the next seven minutes.
Mitchell grabbed a loose ball and scored to tie the game at 65 with 1:34 left. Augustin coolly swished two free throws with 1:05 remaining to put Texas up by two.
Tack Minor missed a shot in the lane and Conner Atchley rebounded and was fouled. But he made only one free throw with 42 seconds left to give the Longhorns a 68-65 lead.
Temple the hit the 3 from the wing to tie it again.
Augustin missed a fadeaway and Atchley missed a tip-in at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
The Tigers took an early four-point lead in the extra period, then missed five of their last six shots.
“With every win or loss, there are always things you could do better,” Brady said. “We’ll take this tape back and get better. Our team is disappointed. But with every disappointment, there comes another opportunity to have success.”