Austin, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Texas picked up a much-needed signature win on Monday, fighting both figuratively and literally to upend No. 14 Baylor 61- 59 in overtime.
Isaiah Taylor hit the game-winning floater with 4.8 seconds remaining just minutes after a scrum he instigated resulted in seven players, including four Texas regulars, being ejected for leaving the bench.
Kenny Chery went coast-to-coast following Taylor's bucket and missed a contested layup at the buzzer.
"I thought I had a good look," Chery said. "I blame that on me, that's something I have got to finish being the senior leader of this team. I have to convert when (the) time comes."
The Longhorns (18-12, 7-10 Big 12) were in dire need of a victory having gone 2-9 against ranked opponents coming in. Ranked as high as No. 6 earlier this season, they are still in danger of being left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Knocking off a Baylor (22-8, 10-7) squad coming off wins over Iowa State and West Virginia gives Texas' resume a boost. The outcome also eliminated the Bears from having a chance at sharing the Big 12 title.
Demarcus Holland and Javan Felix came off the bench and contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Kendal Yancy added 11 for the victors.
Taurean Prince led Baylor with 17 points, while Rico Gathers totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.
The Bears held a seemingly comfortable 48-38 lead following a 13-4 run that featured 3-pointers from Prince, Lester Medford and Al Freeman.
With their NCAA tourney fate essentially on the line, Texas rallied feverous with a 16-6 run over the final 6:07 of regulation. Jonathan Holmes' 3-pointer evened things at 54-54 with just over a minute left, and Texas earned the final shot of regulation when Prince Ibeh blocked a driving Chery.
A stagnant possession, though, resulted in a Holmes miss from well beyond the 3-point line, and the buzzer sounded as the bigs were wrestling for the rebound under the basket.
Texas was leading 54-51 with 2:03 left in overtime when Taylor and Baylor's Royce O'Neale went diving for a loose ball near midcourt along the scorer's table. Taylor pushed O'Neale off of him, and a flurry of bodies immediately surrounded the players. No punches were thrown and cooler heads prevailed, but after looking over the replay, the officials ejected players from both sides for their participation in the disruption.
"There was a loose ball, I went for the ball, he went for the ball, I got elbowed in the mouth and there was a little bit of a scuffle," recalled Taylor. "Unfortunately, some guys got thrown out of the game but just knowing the fight in their heart is there really comforts me."
Texas lost almost all of its frontcourt in Yancy, Ibeh, Cameron Ridley and Connor Lammert, while the only starter Baylor lost was Johnathan Motley. Subs John Heard and Ishmail Wainright were also sent to the locker room.
O'Neale's 3-pointer tied things heading into the final minute, and after both teams exchanged misses, Texas held for the last possession again. Instead of settling for a long shot, Taylor penetrated the lane and hit the eventual game-winner.
When the buzzer sounded following Chery's miss, another heated discussion occurred between players, but nothing more than shouting between heated rivals.
Baylor led virtually the entire first half thanks to 12 second-chance points on the strength of 11 offensive rebounds. Texas, despite shooting 45 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, trailed 31-24 at the break.
Baylor had won nine of the previous 14 meetings ... Gathers posted his 16th double-double of the season ... Baylor went 6-5 in true road games ... Texas wraps up its regular season at home on Saturday against Kansas State ... The Bears host Texas Tech on Friday.