AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas desperately needed a Big 12 win to avoid the same disastrous start of last season.
They got one — by a slim margin — thanks in large part to a big defensive play and two free throws in the final in the final 35 seconds that sent the Longhorns to a 67-64 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Texas (12-4, 1-2) had to have it.
The Longhorns started 0-5 in conference play last season and never recovered, tailing off into the program's first losing season in 15 years. A similar start might have doomed coach Rick Barnes' rebuilding project.
Texas opened conference play this season with a pair of hard-fought losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
"It finally brings a good feeling to the locker room. Nobody's going to be depressed anymore, thinking it's going to be like last year," Ridley said. "You've got to build on it and keep working."
Texas trailed by one when Ridley altered a shot and hustled down the floor for an offensive rebound before he was fouled. His two free throws put Texas ahead 65-64 with 31 seconds left.
A 46 percent free throw shooter last season, Ridley worked hard to improve and is making them at a 60 percent clip this season. He calmly made both with the game on the line.
"We spent many, many, many hours, sometimes just standing two feet in front of the basket and shooting with 1 hand," Barnes said. "We have confidence in him now.
Texas Tech had a chance to win. Jordan Tolbert's shot was blocked by Prince Ibeh before Jaye Crockett missed a jumper. Jonathan Holmes grabbed the rebound off Crockett's miss, then made two free throws with 1 second left.
Isaiah Taylor scored 14 points to lead Texas and Javan Felix scored 12. Crockett and Robert Turner each scored 19 points for Texas Tech (8-8, 0-3).
"It's going to hurt for a month," Crockett said. "We're tired of Texas Tech being at the bottom of the conference. We just want to win."