ATLANTA (AP) -- When Texas needed a 3-point shot, it turned to
the right shooter.
Kenton Paulino, a senior who ranks second in school history in
career 3-point percentage, hit a 3-pointer as time expired Thursday
night and Texas outlasted West Virginia 74-71 in the third round of
the NCAA Tournament.
Paulino's shot saved Texas from an overtime period after Kevin
Pittsnogle's fifth 3-pointer for West Virginia tied it with 5
Paulino took a pass from A.J. Abrams before launching his winner
just before time expired. Officials quickly huddled to confirm
Paulino's shot was good.
"The whole thing was to get it down the floor and see what
happens," Paulino said, adding he had specific instructions from
coach Rick Barnes.
"Coach said if they fake the screen, which they did, get out
quick and just run it down the floor and start up. So that's what I
did, I just ran down the floor. A.J. got the ball to me and I was
ready to go."
The senior said he had never made a similar shot, though he has
made 40.9 percent of his career 3-pointers. He led the team by
making 41.6 percent of his 3-pointers this season, but in Thursday
night's game, Texas was not the team depending on 3-pointers.
West Virginia, second in the nation in 3-pointers made this
season, made 15 of 33 3-point shots in the game. Texas was 4-for-19
from 3-point range.
"We thought we had a pretty good shot to go into overtime,"
Pittsnogle said. "[Paulino] just tossed it up and it went in."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for second-seeded Texas
(30-6), and Pittsnogle led the sixth-seeded Mountaineers (22-11)
Texas beat West Virginia 76-75 on Nov. 21 and couldn't avoid
another close finish, even after leading 39-27 at halftime.
"I was worried coming in because it was a team we know,"
Barnes said. "I am not sure what happened on that last play
because we were switching everything. It was a great day. Wow!"
Barnes said he didn't call a timeout after Pittsnogle's 3
because he already had given his team a plan.
"We told them ... if they score, we've got to get it back and
run it at them," Barnes said. "We got as good a look as we could
Aldridge called Paulino's shot "amazing."
"That shot was awesome," Aldridge said. "He caught it and
shot it and it went in. It is just amazing right now."
West Virginia coach John Beilein said 5 seconds probably was too
much to leave for Texas to answer Pittsnogle's shot.
"With 5 seconds it's just very hard to match their quickness,"
Texas is in the round of eight for the first time since 2003,
when it advanced to the Final Four. The Longhorns will play LSU on
Saturday in the Atlanta Regional final. LSU beat top-seed Duke
62-54 earlier Thursday.
West Virginia was denied a second straight appearance in the
round of eight.
The Mountaineers rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to
briefly take the lead, but the Longhorns -- led by the inside play
of Aldridge -- answered the challenge.
"We felt good about the first half, but we know how West
Virginia shoots the ball," Paulino said.
With 1:29 left to play, Pittsnogle was called for a foul on
Aldridge, though it was Pittsnogle who came away from the contact
with a bloody nose.
Aldridge made one of two free throws for a 68-65 lead, and
Abrams added two free throws with 26.9 seconds left to make it
Mike Gansey, who had 18 points for West Virginia, hit a
3-pointer with 15 seconds left to cut it to 70-68.
A free throw by Aldridge pushed the lead to 71-68, setting the
stage for the two late 3-pointers.
Relying almost completely on its 3-point shooting, West Virginia
trailed 39-27 at halftime. All of its points came on 3-pointers and
free throws until, with only 6 seconds left in the half, J.D.
Collins scored on a short jumper for the Mountaineers' first
"We thought we were a better team than what we showed in the
first half," Gansey said.
When Texas began anticipating West Virginia would continue to
rely on 3-pointers, the Mountaineers quickly closed the deficit by
scoring on cuts to the basket.
West Virginia scored eight points in the first minute of the
second half and trailed 40-37 following a rare inside basket by
Pittsnogle 4 minutes into the half.
A 3-pointer by Pittsnogle with 8:14 left pulled West Virginia
even at 58, and the Mountaineers took a 61-58 lead on a 3-pointer
by Gansey less than a minute later.
Texas answered with seven straight points.