AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Rodney Purvis scored 16 points and led a second half rally as Connecticut beat Texas 71-66 Tuesday night, snapping the Longhorns’ six-game winning streak.
Shonn Miller and Daniel Hamilton added 13 points apiece for UConn (9-3) and former Longhorn Sterling Gibbs scored 12.
Freshman Tevin Mack led Texas (8-4) with a season-best 20 points, and Isaiah Taylor scored 19.
Texas led 53-52 after Mack made his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 8:18 remaining. Then Purvis asserted himself with two driving shots, an assist on a basket by Jalen Adams, and a 3-pointer that gave UConn a 61-55 lead with 4:27 left.
After Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3:49 remaining, Purvis made another basket.
Six straight points by Taylor pulled Texas within two, 65-63, with 33 seconds left, but UConn made six throws in the final 27 seconds, four by Gibbs.
Shaka Smart’s first season at Texas received a nice boost late Saturday, as the player who will run the show has decided to return to the 40 Acres for his junior season.
Isaiah Taylor announced on social media that he’s decided to return to Texas, and his return gives Smart a point guard who has the speed and skill needed to run his system on both ends of the floor. Taylor, who missed the majority of non-conference play with a broken left wrist suffered in a win over Iowa, averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per contest as a sophomore.
“Glad to be a Longhorn! Feels good,” Taylor said via Instagram. “Looking to get this new era started. Love the guys on the team. Spending another year with my teammates and coaching staff is a great feeling.”
Outside of Jonathan Holmes and Myles Turner, the Longhorns will return the majority of last season’s team. But the question is whether or not this group can play the pressure style of basketball that Smart employed while at VCU. It will certainly take some adjusting on both ends, with the players getting a better grasp of what Smart expects and Smart and his staff getting a better idea of what the players on the roster can and cannot do.
But retaining a player the caliber of Taylor helps in that process, and overall Texas won’t lack for depth on the perimeter either. Also returning are Javan Felix, Demarcus Holland and Kendall Yancy, and they also add two recruits in guards Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach. Texas is also in the mix for 6-foot-6 shooting guard Tevin Mack, who signed with VCU and then was granted a release in the aftermath of Smart’s departure.
To say that this season hasn’t gone as planned for the Texas Longhorns would be a major understatement. Seen as one of the teams best equipped to challenge Kentucky before the season began, Rick Barnes’ Longhorns are now at the point where they need quality wins to simply ensure that they’ll make the NCAA tournament.
That’s what made their game at No. 8 Kansas a highly important one. The Longhorns fell by the final score of 69-64, and one of the questions asked was whether or not Texas guard Isaiah Taylor was fouled on his drive to the basket with just over nine seconds remaining and the Jayhawks leading 66-64.
Was Taylor fouled on this play? Or was he simply out of control, resulting in it appearing as if he were fouled? You make the call.