Wednesday in Austin, the Texas Tech basketball team upset no. 4 Texas 79-77 thanks to a jumper by Mac McClung with three seconds to play.
Mac McClung was brought to Texas Tech to be a closer. But prior to Wednesday night, when his team has been in one-score games late, McClung had not been given the opportunity to play the role of the hero as other players tried to take over.
Against Kansas, in a one-point loss, it was Terrence Shannon Jr. who had the final shot. And against Oklahoma State, in a three-point OT loss, it was Kyler Edwards. In each of those defeats, Tech failed to get the best offensive player on the team, McClung, involved at the game’s most critical juncture.
That all changed in a huge way with the clock running out at the Erwin Center and the game tied at 77. Following a missed jumper by UT’s closer, Matt Coleman, with just over 10 seconds to play, head coach Chris Beard did not call time out and let his best player go to work.
Bringing the ball up the court by himself after corraling the rebound off of Coleman’s miss, McClung crossed center court, took a hard dribble right, and drained a jumper right in the face of Texas’ Courtney Ramey with three seconds to play. Ballgame.
This was a game Tech led for only 36 seconds all night. And it was a game that felt for most of the evening as if Tech should have been down by 15 points.
Dominated almost all game long on the glass and seeing the Longhorns drain 13 of 25 shots from beyond the arc, the Red Raiders trailed by 10 points at the break and didn’t take the lead for the first time in the second half until there was fewer than four minutes remaining.
However, the Red Raiders finally came up with the plays down the stretch to pull out a close game over a ranked opponent. This was just the third time in the program’s last eleven games against ranked foes (dating back to last season) that the Red Raiders managed to come out with a win and doing so by cutting out the hearts of the Longhorns on their own court was as satisfying as any regular-season win can be.
McClung led all scorers with 22 points. He was 6-14 from the field and 8-10 from the free-throw line. Additionally, he had five rebounds, a pair of assists, and a steal.
Also fantastic was Kevin McCullar who had 16 huge points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. The only other Red Raider in the starting lineup to score in double-digits was Marcus Santos-Silva with 12, a number matched by Terrence Shannon Jr. off the bench.
There will be plenty of time to break down what happened in Austin in between now and Saturday’s showdown with no. 2 Baylor in Lubbock. So for now, let’s just bask in the glory of one of the most dramatic wins in Texas Tech basketball history.
Let’s also have no doubt that this team is better for having fought through this game because to battle back time and again required a level of street-dog mentality that some had begun to wonder if this program still possessed after all of its unprecedented success. It also required someone to step up and finally be a closer. That someone was Mac…Freaking…McClung.