February 18, 2007

Longhorns survive a late collapse in Waco

The old cliché is a win is a win, and while that may be true, the Texas Longhorns didn't show any signs of progress closing out a game in the 68-67 win in Waco Saturday night. The Longhorns put a full collapse on display in the last 1:40 of the game with a 68-60 lead before Baylor reserve Mark Shepherd missed a last second 14-footer off the glass, bailing out Texas. The closing minutes were a combination of poor decisions, missed free throws and questionable decisions on how to close out a game with the best player in college basketball on the floor.

With the escape in Waco, Texas improves to 9-3 in conference play and 19-7 on the season. The victory moves Texas one win closer to a few magic numbers. If the Longhorns win Tuesday night in Austin against Texas Tech, Texas would get to 10 Big 12 wins which would secure a first round bye in the conference tournament, likely wrap up a NCAA Tournament bid and get to the 20 win mark.

CONNOR ATCHLEY PLAYS THE ROLE OF DIFFERENCE MAKER

Sixth man Connor Atchley had a solid game against the Bears in the first meeting in Austin, scoring nine points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 22 minutes. Saturday night Atchley put together the best all-around game of his young Longhorns career in 26 minutes of action.

Atchley hit 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line for 15 points. The 6-foot-10 sophomore grabbed eight rebounds, recorded two steals and blocked one shot in a game in which he was consistently active on both ends of the floor.

While Atchley has been active on the defensive end in Big 12 play leading the conference in blocked shots, his offense has been limited to outside jumpers and free throws for the most part. Saturday night, Atchley did the best job of playing without the ball in his time at Texas.

Whether it was stepping to the ball on a teammates penetration or rolling to the basket and giving D.J. Augustin an easy moving target for a score, Atchley was active and put pressure on the Baylor big men to move their feet defensively. Throw in a 14-foot baseline jumper and Atchley played a complete game for the Longhorns when they needed it the most with Kevin Durant shooting just 5-of-16 and Augustin having a poor decision making game.

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