Ramey free throws enable Texas to escape upset
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One year ago to the day, Radford pulled an upset on the road against the 17th-ranked team in the country.
On Saturday, McNeese State nearly marked the anniversary with a victory against the same team.
This time, unranked Texas survived.
Courtney Ramey made two free throws with 8.4 seconds left, enabling the Longhorns to escape with a 73-71 victory on Saturday.
McNeese’s Leondre Washington missed a 3-point attempt at an upset with three seconds remaining.
Texas guard Courtney Ramey said coach Shaka Smart did not forget the anniversary of the 62-59 defeat.
“Coach brought it up,” Ramey said.
Smart said he spoke to Matt Coleman, the sophomore point guard who had a season-best 10 assists against McNeese.
“Didn’t make a huge deal out of Radford last year,” Smart said. “Matt and I talked about it from a leadership standpoint. I thought in that game we didn’t have the leadership we needed to have to bring the guys together and bring the game home. We did a better job today.”
Ramey and Andrew Jones led Texas (6-1) with 14 points apiece. Each made a 3-point basket during the final 3:19, as did Jase Febres.
Jericho Sims had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Longhorns.
McNeese (2-6) forward Sha’Markus Kennedy punished Texas inside with a game-high 22 points. Washington scored 17. Dru Kuxhausen scored 12, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers, but he missed a driving shot with nine seconds left and then fouled Ramey.
Washington’s 3-pointer with 1:33 left gave McNeese a 69-68 lead. Jones put Texas back ahead with a 3-pointer, but Kennedy tied it with 56 seconds remaining.
Texas hit 3 of 14 3-pointers in the first half but improved to 6 of 17 in the second.
The Longhorns had an 18-5 edge in offensive rebounding – including six by Sims -- turning them into 14 second-chance points.
“I thought the difference in the game was the offensive glass,” McNeese coach Heath Schroyer said. “They just ate us up.”
Texas: The Longhorns’ 30.8 percent 3-point accuracy before facing McNeese ranked eighth in the 10-team Big 12 Conference. They hit 29 percent against McNeese. Even with the late, clutch, 3-pointers, Febres and Jones combined to make only 5 of 20.
“As a shooter you gotta keep shooting,” Ramey said. “Take Andrew and Jase. They missed a couple but they kept shooting and made a couple big ones late in the game.”
Said Smart, “If they are not going in, find a way to get to the foul line. That’s probably the biggest thing for us. We’re not getting to the foul line enough.”
Indeed, before Saturday, Texas was tied with TCU for fewest free throws attempted by a Big 12 team with 71.
McNeese: The Cowboys, picked to finish seventh in the 13-team Southland Conference, completed a tough stretch during which they lost to Wisconsin, New Mexico and Richmond, the latter by 30 points. But they were ready for Texas, scoring inside and from 3-point range, a strength for McNeese this season. The Cowboys shot 52% overall – making three dunks during a four-possession span late in the first half -- and converted 8 of 16 3-pointers. They never trailed by more than six.
“I thought we played extremely well,” Schroyer said.
THE LITTLE GUYS
McNeese played without fear, especially after Stephen F. Austin, a fellow member of the Southland, won at No. 1 Duke earlier in the week.
“So much parity in college basketball,” Schroyer said. “There are players everywhere. It’s just about getting them and developing them.”
Kai Jones, a 6-foot-11 freshman for Texas, made four dunks in 10 minutes of competition off the bench. Smart says that Jones is capable of becoming the team’s best shot-blocker.
“Kai has as much as more potential as anyone on our team,” Smart said,
Texas slipped from No. 22 to 31st in votes last week after losing to Georgetown and beating California. Will voters be impressed by a two-point win against a mid-major?
Texas hosts UAB on Tuesday. They’ve met only once, with Texas winning 96-60 in December 2016 in Austin.
McNeese hosts Campbellsville-Harrodsburg on Dec. 10.
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