For 40 minutes, Texas made life hard for the nation’s leading scorer.
Overtime, however, was Kemba Walker’s time.
Walker made a desperate, from-the-hip 3-pointer, then nailed the game-winner from about 15 feet with five seconds left in overtime yesterday to lift No. 8 Connecticut to a tough 82-81 road victory over the No. 12 Longhorns.
“I felt like I owed it to my team,’’ Walker said of his effort in overtime. “I felt like I would get my shot and make it.’’
Walker, who came in averaging 26.1 points, finished with 22 against Texas on 8-of-27 shooting. He scored 7 in overtime. The 3-pointer came with a second left on the shot clock and put the Huskies ahead, 80-77.
Texas (12-3) had a final chance to win, but after getting the ball to midcourt and calling time out, freshman Cory Joseph juggled the inbounds pass and misfired a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Alex Oriaki had a career-high 21 rebounds for UConn (12-2), which exploited Texas’s focus on stopping Walker to score 42 points in the paint. The Huskies also ended the Longhorns’ 27-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents.
Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown each scored 20 points to lead Texas.
UConn blew a chance to win the game in regulation. Oriaki blocked a shot by Texas’s Gary Johnson and Roscoe Smith grabbed the rebound with about 11 seconds left. Instead of holding the ball for a final shot, Smith launched a wild crosscourt shot that sailed over the backboard and into the Texas pep band.
That gave the Longhorns the ball back with 7.5 seconds to play, but Brown missed to send the game into overtime.
Syracuse 61, Seton Hall 56 — The fourth-ranked Orange overcame their offensive struggles in Newark to match their best start in 12 years at 16-0. Syracuse shot just 7 of 23 from the field in the first half, but still led, 20-19, at halftime.
Kris Joseph had 17 points for the Orange (3-0 Big East) and Brandon Triche scored all 15 of his in the second half. Jeff Robinson led the Pirates (7-9, 1-3) with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Pittsburgh 89, Marquette 81 — Ashton Gibbs had 19 points, Brad Wanamaker totaled 15, and the No. 5 Panthers (15-1, 3-0 Big East) shot 60 percent from the floor in beating the Golden Eagles (11-5, 2-1) in Pittsburgh.
San Diego St. 71, Utah 62 — At Salt Lake City, D.J. Gay hit four 3-pointers in the second half and totaled 18 points for the No. 6 Aztecs (17-0, 2-0 Mountain West). Kawhi Leonard had 20 points for the visitors.
Colorado 89, Missouri 76 — Alec Burks lit up the No. 9 Tigers for a career-high 36 points and the host Buffaloes (12-4), who go from the Big 12 to the expanded Pac-12 next season, snapped a streak of 13 losses in conference openers. Missouri (14-2, 0-1) had won nine straight.
Georgia 77, Kentucky 70 — Trey Thompkins had 25 points, and the host Bulldogs (12-2, 1-0 SEC) upset the 10th-ranked Wildcats (12-3, 0-1) for their ninth consecutive victory, the program’s longest winning streak since its 1983 Final Four season.
West Virginia 65, Georgetown 59 — At Washington, Casey Mitchell powered the Mountaineers (10-4, 2-2) with 28 points and the No. 13 Hoyas (12-4, 1-3) were hurt by 18 turnovers in a rematch of last season’s Big East tournament final.
Notre Dame 76, St. John’s 61 — The No. 14 Fighting Irish (14-2, 3-1 Big East) improved to 11-0 at home behind Ben Hansbrough’s 26 points. The Red Storm (10-4, 3-1) shot just 38 percent as their five-game winning streak ended.
BYU 76, Air Force 66 — Jimmer Fredette scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half for the No. 15 Cougars (16-1, 2-0 Mountain West), who held off the Falcons (10-5, 1-1) in Provo, Utah.
Texas A&M 69, Oklahoma 51 — Khris Middleton had 16 points for the 16th-ranked Aggies (14-1, 1-0 Big 12), whose 11-game winning streak is the third longest in program history. The Sooners (8-7, 0-1) lost for the first time in nine home games.
Oklahoma St. 76, Kansas St. 62 — The No. 17 Wildcats (12-4) lost in Gallagher-Iba Arena for the 11th straight time since 1994 as Jean-Paul Olukemi scored 22 points for the Cowboys (13-2) in the teams’ Big 12 opener.
Penn St. 66, Michigan St. 62 — Andrew Jones made clutch plays for the Nittany Lions (9-6, 2-2 Big Ten) and finished with 16 points for the hosts. Durrell Summers had 21 points for the No. 18 Spartans (10-5, 2-1) but missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Houston 76, Central Florida 71 — The No. 19 Knights lost for the first time as the host Cougars (9-6, 1-1 Conference USA) got 17 points apiece from Kirk Van Slyke and Zamal Nixon. Central Florida (14-1, 1-1) made only five field goals in the first half.
Memphis 61, East Carolina 58 — The No. 21 Tigers (12-3, 1-0 Conference USA) didn’t make a field goal over the final 5:23, yet held off the Pirates (8-7, 0-1) in Memphis. Tarik Black had a team-high 12 points.
South Carolina 83, Vanderbilt 75 — Sam Muldrow had the second triple-double in South Carolina history with 16 points, 14 boards, and 10 blocks, and the host Gamecocks (10-4, 1-0 SEC) got past the No. 22 Commodores (11-3, 0-1) in overtime.
Washington 103, Oregon St. 72 — At Seattle, Matthew Bryan-Amaning totaled 24 points and 15 rebounds, and the No. 23 Huskies (12-3, 4-0 Pac-10) blitzed the Beavers (7-8, 2-2) with a 28-4 run that spanned both halves.
UNLV 83, TCU 49 — The 25th-ranked Rebels (13-3, 1-1 Mountain West) rolled at home thanks to Tre’Von Willis’s 22 points.