AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns beat the 16th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs 99-98 in double overtime to earn their biggest win of the season Wednesday night, just after the Texas program was walloped with an emotional sledgehammer: sophomore guard Andrew Jones being diagnosed with leukemia.
As soon as the final horn sounded, tears welled in Texas coach Shaka Smart’s eyes and Jones’ teammates held up his jersey as they sang “The Eyes of Texas” with the home crowd.
“We got some real help from someone when that ball didn’t go in,” Smart said of a missed layup by TCU’s Jaylen Fisher that would have given the Horned Frogs the win.
“Our guys really wanted to win for Andrew. He’s the one that’s been on our minds and in our hearts and I’m really proud of the way they fought. I hope Drew’s listening right now. I hope he knows we love him,” Smart said.
Texas got the victory after Jericho Sims made a free throw then missed the second. Sims was trying to defend Fisher when the smaller guard blew past him toward the basket.
“Man, I’m glad that didn’t go in,” Sims said.
Jones was Texas’ leading scorer until a wrist fracture sidelined him for several games in December. When he returned, he complained of being tired and hardly played. He missed a game last weekend at Baylor while undergoing tests.
Texas said Wednesday that Jones has started treatment but released no more details on his condition or his diagnosis.
“Andrew’s the best fighter on our team. He’s got a fight ahead of him. I know he’s really gonna fight. And our guys really fed off of his spirit tonight,” Smart said.
Before the game, the Texas players left an open seat on the bench with Jones’ jersey draped on the back. When the game was over, forward Dylan Osetkowski and guard Eric Davis grabbed the jersey for the final song.
“It didn’t matter how long it would take. We wanted to get the win,” Osetkowski said. “Everybody left everything on the line tonight.”
Davis scored 22 points for Texas (11-5, 2-2 Big 12) and Osetkowski had 20. Sims finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Longhorns face a tough season without Jones. He was a leader and his presence will be missed on the court and in the locker room in a season that was supposed to be a big turnaround from a last-place finish in the Big 12.
Smart had told his players about Jones’ diagnosis Tuesday night.
“Leaving that meeting, guys weren’t just in tears, they were wailing,” Smart said. “I said we’ve got to support these guys and be there for them. We didn’t know what was going to happen today.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.