Morgantown, W.Va. — Three years to the day since Texas coach Shaka Smart told his players that Andrew Jones had been diagnosed with leukemia, the junior guard put his latest stamp on what is turni ng into a special season for the Longhorns.
Jones hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left to lift the fourth-ranked Longhorns to a 72-70 victory over No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday.
Courtney Ramey drove into the lane among four defenders before tossing the ball to Jones in the right corner for an uncontested shot after West Virginia’s Emmitt Matthews missed two free throws with 11 seconds left.
On Jan. 9, 2018, Smart told his players that Jones had been diagnosed with leukemia. Jones missed most of the next two seasons and completed his cancer treatments in September 2019.
On Saturday, Jones went over the 1,000-point mark for his career, joined Smart and his teammates in a postgame locker room dance, then got on Twitter to thank God “for even allowing me to be here and play the game that I love.”
He also thanked his teammates and supporters. “Let’s keep it going,” Jones wrote.
Smart said he still gets emotional watching Jones play.
“He’s come so far,” Smart said. “I don’t know a lot of guys that would be able to do what he did from the standpoint of scraping and clawing his way back. The one thing that is just so impressive about Andrew from the beginning is, after he was diagnosed, he kept saying: ‘I’m going to come back and play. I’m going to come back and play.’
“I think the rest of us were just like: ‘We’ll be happy if we can just get you back healthy. Forget playing right now.’ But I think that really helped him from a motivational standpoint.”
Ramey scored 19 points for Texas (10-1, 4-0 Big 12), which had to come from nine points down in the second half. Jones finished with 16 points, Matt Coleman had 13 and freshman Greg Brown had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Texas scored the final seven points of the game and avenged last year’s 38-point loss at West Virginia, which was the fifth-worst loss in program history and the worst under Smart.
Taz Sherman scored 17 points, Sean McNeil added 14 points and Derek Culver had his seventh double-double of the season, with 14 points and 16 rebounds, for the Mountaineers (9-4, 2-3).
West Virginia was poised to add to a 54-45 lead midway through the second half, then Texas got tough on defense.
“We’re not as athletic as what they were,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “They make up for a lot of mistakes with their athleticism.”
Coleman blocked Sherman’s layup attempt at the rim. Culver, trying to fight through a pair of defenders, missed another layup on the Mountaineers’ next possession. Kai Jones then blocked another Culver layup attempt and Jones scored at the other end of the court as part of an 8-0 run that tied the score at 57 with 8:36 left.
“I thought there was a lot of contact in the post,” Huggins said. “Those are shots Derek normally makes.”
The Longhorns, who trailed most of the game, didn’t retake the lead until the final seconds.
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►No. 2 Baylor 67, (at) TCU 49: Jared Butler scored a season-high 28 points and Baylor stayed undefeated with another double-digit win even after trailing at halftime for the first time this season.
MaCio Teague added 12 points and Davion Mitchell had 10 for the Bears (11-0, 4-0 Big 12).
Mike Miles had 15 of his 17 points by halftime for the Horned Frogs (9-4, 2-3), who led at halftime only because of the freshman’s highlight buzzer-beating 3-pointer from about 65 feet that made it 28-27.
RJ Nembhard had 14 points and Kevin Samuel had 11 rebounds for TCU, which played consecutive home games against Top 10 opponents for the first time in school history. No. 6 Kansas beat the Frogs 93-64 last Tuesday.
►(At) No. 6 Kansas 63, Oklahoma 59: David McCormack hit the clinching short hook shot with 12.8 seconds to go, giving the Kansas big man 17 points against short-handed Oklahoma.
Ochai Agbaji added 14 points and Jalen Wilson had nine points and 11 rebounds, helping Kansas (11-2, 4-1 Big 12) avoid back-to-back losses in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time since the first season under Roy Williams in 1988-89.
The Sooners (6-4, 2-3), playing without Brady Manek and Jalen Hill because of COVID-19 protocols, took a 57-56 lead when Austin Reaves hit a jumper from the free-throw line with 21/2 minutes to go. But McCormack scored over Oklahoma’s Kur Kuath to give Kansas the lead back, and Wilson’s 3-pointer made it 61-57 with 1:26 to go.
►(At) No. 7 Creighton 97, St. John’s 79: Denzel Mahoney scored a season-high 24 points to lead six players in double figures with star Marcus Zegarowski out of the lineup, and Creighton pulled away early in a victory over St. John’s.
The Bluejays (10-2, 6-1) won their sixth straight Big East game in the same season for the first time since joining the conference in 2013. The Red Storm (6-6, 1-5) dropped to 0-4 on the road.
Zegarowski, the Big East preseason player of the year and the Bluejays’ season scoring leader, was held out because of an undisclosed injury. Stadium reported the junior point guard tweaked his hamstring against Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Creighton didn’t miss a beat, with its balanced offense overshadowing Julian Champagnie’s career-high 33-point performance for St. John’s.
►No. 9 Tennessee 68, (at) Texas A&M 54: Santiago Vescov scored a career-high 23 points, including six 3-pointers, and Tennessee beat Texas A&M.
Vescovi’s hot hand began early for the Vols (9-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) as he hit his first four shots from behind the arc. His barrage was a part of a 17-4 Tennessee run that pushed the Volunteers’ lead to 14 midway through the opening half.
Senior Savion Flagg was the Aggies’ saving grace at the end of the first, connecting on three consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Aggies (6-4, 1-3) within six. Flagg entered Saturday’s contests on a 3-for-21 clip from the field over the previous three games.
►(At) No. 11 Houston 71, Tulane 50: Marcus Sasser scored 20 of his career-high 28 points in the first half to lead Houston past Tulane.
Sasser shot 7 of 9, including 6 of 7 on 3-pointers, in the first half as the Cougars (10-1, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) built a 12-point halftime lead. Sasser finished with a career-high eight 3-pointers. Quentin Grimes scored 14 points.
Houston shot 44%, including 15 of 36 on 3-pointers. The Cougars outrebounded Tulane 48-26, which led to an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points.
Jordan Walker scored 13 points and Jaylen Forbes had 11 for Tulane (6-3, 1-3). The Green Wave shot 29%, including 6 of 19 on 3-pointers.
►No. 18 Texas Tech 91, (at) Iowa State 64: Kyler Edwards scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half as Texas Tech built a huge lead and breezed past Iowa State.
The Red Raiders (10-3, 3-2 Big 12) used a pair of 12-0 runs to make it 54-28 with just over a minute left before the break.
Mac McClung added 18 points for the Red Raiders. Kevin McCullar finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Solomon Young and Rasir Bolton led the Cyclones (2-7, 0-5) with 15 points each.
►(At) No. 21 Duke 79, Wake Forest 68: Matthew Hurt scored a career-high 26 points to help Duke beat Wake Forest in Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s return from a one-game absence due to COVID-19 protocols.
Freshman DJ Steward added 21 points for the Blue Devils (5-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 51% and controlled the boards to extend their home-court dominance in the long-running in-state series.
Krzyzewski missed Wednesday’s one-point win against Boston College. He had said previously that he and his wife were following quarantine protocols after a family member had tested positive for COVID-19, though Krzyzewski said both of them had tested negative.
He said he was tested again early Saturday before being cleared. He said a daughter and granddaughter are fighting the virus and “doing OK but not great.”
►No. 22 Virginia 61, (at) Boston College 49: Jay Huff matched his career-high with 18 points, adding eight rebounds to lead Virginia over Boston College.
Sam Hauser scored 17 with 10 boards to help the Cavaliers (6-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their third straight since a Dec. 26 loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.
DeMarr Langford Jr. scored 14 and CJ Felder had nine points and nine rebounds for BC. The Eagles (2-9, 0-5) have lost eight of their last nine matchups against Virginia, with the one victory coming in January against the No. 18 and defending NCAA champion Cavaliers — BC’s last win over a ranked team.