Fred Hoiberg sat down and looked blankly at the final boxscore. The second-year coach for Iowa State was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even respond when the moderator asked him for a postgame statement.
"Oh, sorry," he said, showing a tightly drawn smile.
Easily forgiven. Hoiberg had plenty to digest after watching a big second-half lead turn into a big second-half deficit, and then watching Texas star J'Covan Brown convert an acrobatic three-point play in the closing seconds to help beat the No. 25 Cyclones, 71-65 on Thursday night.
"It's disappointing to go out in the first round down here, especially all the fans we had in attendance," Hoiberg said finally. "They made big plays. I thought we put our heads down as a team, and then we regrouped and found a way to get back in the game.
"They made plays down the stretch and we didn't."
That's why Texas is advancing to play No. 5 Missouri for a spot in the Big 12 tournament title game, and why the Cyclones are following all those fans back up I-35 to Ames.
Brown finished with 23 points for the Longhorns (20-12), who reached the 20-win plateau for the 13th consecutive season and just maybe slid off the NCAA tournament bubble. They've gone to 13 straight tournaments, tied for fourth-most behind Kansas, Duke and Michigan State.
"Tournament time is always a great time," Brown said. "The crowd, I think we only had a couple fans, and they had a great amount of fans. We love that, to walk into a gym and quiet their fans. We just tried to give it our all for 40 minutes."
Royce White had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cyclones (22-10), and it was his turnaround bank shot with 51.6 seconds left that tied it at 65. But after Brown was fouled on a spinning jumper and made the free throw, White lost control of the ball with 22.9 seconds left.
It wound up in the hands of the Longhorns' Jonathan Holmes, who made both free throws for a 70-65 lead. The Cyclones turned it over again on their next possession to seal the outcome.
"It means nothing. My performance was not good enough," said White, who was voted the league's top newcomer this season. "It just wasn't good enough."
Myck Kabongo added 11 points and Clint Champman had 10 for Texas, which trailed by 11 early in the second half before embarking on a 22-4 run to flip the script. Then it came down to which team could make the clutch plays, and Brown was able to deliver for Texas.
The Cyclones, who most believe are squarely in the dance, still haven't won a Big 12 tournament game since 2005. They've dropped seven straight, four of them at the Sprint Center.
"We've got one more chance to go out and make a run and do something," Hoiberg said, "and hopefully we'll be better next time."
It seemed like the old days for Iowa State at the Big 12 tournament, at least for a while.
Fans that carried Hilton Magic down the interstate and packed Kemper Arena in the early years of the event did so again at the Sprint Center. Clad in red and yellow, they filled the place to the rafters for the day session and then filed right back in at night.
They announced their presence as Iowa State seized a 28-19 lead late in the first half behind balanced scoring up and down the lineup, and really grew to a roar when the lead swelled to 40-29 on Scott Christopherson's jumper with 17:10 remaining.
"I did get upset because we started the half by taking a quick shot, and then we threw it out of bounds. It was our offense," said Texas coach Barnes said. "All year we've guarded."
When the offense finally started clicking, Texas got right back in the game.
Kabongo and Julien Lewis combined for an 11-0 run that was part of a larger 22-4 stretch in which that 11-point deficit turned into a 51-44 lead. Brown knocked down a couple of shots, but mostly he played the distributor to teammates who at times have gone missing this season.
Texas still led 55-47 when the Cyclones clawed back, tying it at 59 on a pair of foul shots by Chris Allen with 4:39 left. The Longhorns answered with six straight points, four of them on jumpers by Brown, and maintained a comfy cushion with 2:35 left in the game.
Iowa State rallied one more time, getting a basket from Allen and another from Percy Gibson to pull to 65-63. White managed to get the Cyclones even, but Brown was there to answer for the Longhorns, and Texas took control in the closing seconds.
"It was a hard, physical game," Barnes said. "There were a lot of things we did tonight, really from start to finish, in terms of staying with the game plan. I thought we did that."