AUSTIN, Texas — In the run-up to Saturday’s do-or-die rematch against No. 20 West Virginia, Texas coach Shaka Smart showed his shorthanded team a boxing documentary on the Gatti-Ward fight trilogy.
Those pugilistic platitudes seemed cliche yet appropriate after the Mountaineers enjoyed a 35-point beating in the first meeting.
“When we played them in Morgantown, they just knocked us out,” said Longhorns guard Kerwin Roach. “This time we refused to let them knock us out.”
Roach and Matt Coleman scored 22 points each while playing marathon minutes, and Texas delivered its own roundhouse flurry of big shots during overtime to spring the upset 87-79.
Lamont West’s 15 points off the bench weren’t enough to save the Mountaineers (22-9, 11-7). The reserve forward emerged from one of Bob Huggins’ infamous — and elongated — postgame locker room sessions calling it “a bad loss.”
In the hallway outside the locker rooms, 3-point gunner Dylan Osetkowski shouted ‘Got that Dub! Got that Dub!” after Texas (18-13, 8-10) dramatically boosted its NCAA hopes.
“We knew there was a ton on the line,” added Longhorns coach Shaka Smart.
The hungrier, more desperate team won, evidenced by a 37-32 edge in rebounding despite the absence of 7-footer Mo Bamba. That deficit irked Huggins, whose team squandered a chance to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.
“We didn’t rebound the ball,” he said. “If you don’t try very rarely do you get them.”
Along with Bamba, Texas also was missing guard Eric Davis Jr., the casualty of the FBI probe. And of course, the absence of guard Andrew Jones to a midseason leukemia diagnosis remains a perpetual setback.
What it lacked in personnel, Texas compensated with guts. Roach and Coleman each played 43 minutes. They outscored West Virginia’s senior backcourt tandem 44-16.
“We focused on me and Snoop being bigger than Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles,” said Coleman, a freshman whose season high came on 9-of-14 shooting.
Two of those baskets came in overtime, after Carter’s layup extended the game with 1.7 seconds lefties regulation.
Texas sank its first four shots in the extra period and made 57 percent overall, its best rate in conference play this season.
“We didn’t guard well,” Carter said.
Osetkowski added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep, and freshman forward Jericho Sims filled in for Bamba with a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds.
“(Sims) has gotten a lot better,” Huggins said. “He didn’t even look to score before.”
WVU’s Sagaba Konate finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, a performance that could have turned massive if not for missing several point-blank shots. The sophomore center also posted only one block, upset when two others resulted in goaltending.
Carter added 12 points and six assists, while Esa Ahmad awoke late in regulation to finish with 10 points.
Beetle Bolden also scored 10, helping the Mountaineers to what typically would be a devastating 34-11 margin in bench scoring.
Texas, however, did not relent.
Playing in front of half-empty Erwin Center, the Longhorns surged ahead 57-50 on a 15-2 run that featured two 3s by Osetkowski and Roach driving baseline for a reverse layup over two defenders.
WVU responded by ending a 4:41 scoreless stretch when Ahmad made two jumpers and Bolden buried a 3 to tie it.
Amid 13 lead changes, the game U-turned frequently. And so, too, did UT’s odds of making the NCAA bracket.
“If I was on the committee?” Smart asked rhetorically. “Yeah, we’re in.”