AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Michael Dixon’s flagrant foul down the stretch nearly cost his team the game. About 40 seconds later, he won it.
Dixon’s layup with 31 seconds left gave No. 4 Missouri the lead and Marcus Denmon’s rebound after a final miss by Texas’ Myck Kabongo sealed a tough 67-66 victory for the Tigers on Monday night.
Texas has rallied from 13 down to take the lead on J’Covan Brown’s jumper with 56 seconds left. The Tigers had held a three-point lead when Dixon, dribbling away time at midcourt, was whistled for a flagrant when he swung an elbow at Julien Lewis’ head.
Lewis’ free throws and Brown’s basket had Texas in position for its biggest win of the season.
Then Dixon made up for his blunder with a high, floating bank shot layup over Jaylen Bond that put the Tigers back on top to stay.
“In the heat of battle things happen,” Dixon said. “You just have to look at the next play.”
Dixon’s layup capped a sparkling game. He was 9 of 10 shooting in a matchup against Brown, dished out four assists and consistently hit the big shots for the Tigers (20-2, 7-2 Big 12) all night.
Missouri continues its impressive season under first-year head coach Frank Haith, who was a Texas assistant under Longhorns coach Rick Barnes from 2002-04 before taking over the University of Miami program.
Haith was with Barnes during a three-year stretch that ranks among the best in school history. The Longhorns advanced to the round of 16 twice and made the Final Four in 2003. The Texas crowd gave him a welcome round of applause when he was introduced before the game.
“It was a great win for us,” Haith said of his homecoming. “I felt we showed toughness down the stretch.”
For Texas’, it was another crushing loss for a team in desperate search of a big win. The Longhorns (13-9, 3-6) are 0-7 in games decided by six points or fewer and dropped their fifth loss in six games, all to ranked teams, two of them to Missouri.
After the game, Barnes and Kabongo were left complaining that a foul wasn’t called on the Tigers’ Matt Pressey on the final play.
Pressey appeared to catch Kabongo’s non-shooting left arm when he went up for the final shot on the baseline. Kabongo short-armed the shot, which then fell to Denmon.
“He did get fouled,” Barnes said. “(But) what we needed was to get a stop on the other end and we didn’t get it … It’s tough when you’re trying to get over the hump and it seems plays like that don’t go your way.”
Brown scored 20 for Texas and the Longhorns considered working the ball to him for the final shot. But Missouri’s tough zone defense kept the ball on the perimeter and it fell to Kabongo for the final play.
“We did not want (Brown) to shoot it,” Missouri guard Kim English said. “He was guarded well on that play.”
Lewis scored 12 and Kabongo finished with 10 for the Longhorns. Texas outrebounded Missouri 38-26, but a ragged offense didn’t have an assist on offense in the first half and the Longhorns were just 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.
Missouri seemed to have the game in control when it opened the second half with a flurry. Dixon was the catalyst, making three straight baskets over Brown and Kim English made a 3-pointer to push the Tigers’ lead to 36-29.
“I basically gave up half his points,” Brown said of Dixon.” I have to go out there and be a better defender than I was today.”
Brown, who has struggled badly shooting at home, started finding his touch and kept Mizzou from pulling away. Brown and Phil Pressey matched each other’s 3s and Brown added a driving layup and a free throw cut the Tigers’ lead to 46-43 with just under 11 minutes to play.
The Longhorns trailed 50-48 with a chance tie or take the lead when Phil Pressey picked the ball from Kabongo, who had opted not to shoot an open 3-pointer and then was whistled for a flagrant foul. Pressey made both free throws.
Missouri had another chance to slam the door on Texas but couldn’t. Ricardo Ratliff made a tough layup, then finished a three-point play after a steal by English. A 3-pointer by English with 4:43 to play put the Tigers ahead 63-53 before Texas rallied again behind Brown and Kabongo.
“In the timeouts, we stressed to our guys it was `win time,'” Haith said. “We were going to win the game.”