NCAA Tournament 2018: The 3 key factors that led to Texas' collapse vs. Nevada
The Wolf Pack were down and out before shots started falling late in their win vs. the Longhorns
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No. 10 seed Texas was cruising midway through its NCAA Tournament first-round game Friday against No. 7 seed Nevada on Friday, then promptly fell asleep at the wheel as the game - and its season -- evaporated into thin air.
The Longhorns led by as many as 14 points as late as the 18:31 mark in the second half, but Texas allowed the Wolf Pack to claw all the way back to knock off the 'Horns in overtime, 87-83, locking in their date with No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.
It's the first win for Nevada in the NCAA Tournament since 2007 and, most notably, another shocking early exit for Shaka Smart at Texas -- this time in an outcome in which Texas controlled the lead for 37:22 minutes of game time.
So let's get to three of the key plays in that game and figure out how Texas, like or not, blew the game.
1. Mo Bamba fouled out
The Longhorns' 7-foot big man Mo Bamba fouled out with 3 seconds to go in regulation, sending Texas' rim-running, shot-blocking superstar to the bench for the remainder of the game.
Bamba finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and five fouls. Without him in the game, Nevada was able to find driving the lane and finishing around the rim much, much easier. In overtime, it specifically enabled the Pack to drive and finish or drive and kick for hot-handed Caleb Martin, who opened the game up with clutch 3-pointers in the extra frame.
2. Caleb Martin's clutch strokes
Speaking of Martin, he nearly single-handedly ousted the Longhorns with his back-to-back triples in the final minutes of overtime. Martin's second, a stroke from the right wing, gave Nevada a four-point lead it would never surrender.
3. Texas didn't take advantage of Nevada's free-throw woes
Nevada's struggles from the charity stripe makes Texas' collapse even more confounding.
From the under 5-minute mark in regulation and into overtime, the Pack missed four of their 10 shots from the stripe, each time leaving the door just wide enough for Texas to potentially pounce on the opportunity. Nevada could've iced the game by knocking down two free throws in the closing seconds, but instead it went 1 for 2. So Texas got the ball back with a chance to seal it, and instead coughed-up the ball and gave possession back to Nevada.
Not ideal execution for Texas with a chance to win it, but the failed opportunity was fittingly emblematic of its collapse. The Longhorns had a shot and they blew it, and instead of playing on into the weekend, their season is now abruptly finished.
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