Clint Chapman

Cincinnati forward Octavius Ellis, left, is knocked to the ground by Texas guard Sheldon McClellan during an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game on Friday, March 16, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

NASHVILLE, TN--Even in the NCAA Tournament, Texas couldn't escape its biggest weakness: winning close games.

The eleventh-seeded Longhorns lost to sixth-seeded Cincinnati, 65-59, on Friday at Bridgestone Arena in the second round of the tournament. The loss dropped Texas to 3-9 in games decided by six points or fewer.

Texas erased a 19 point second half deficit and tied the game at 52 with 3:44 to play. But the Bearcats answered with six straight points. The Longhorns trailed by four with one minute left but couldn't convert when they needed to.

"We had two chances to take the lead but it's where our season has been: turnover, not a very good shot," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We made some poor decisions with the ball."

Texas played like it had all season: a slow start followed by a late rally, capped off with questionable execution down the stretch.

The Bearcats relaxed on the defensive end after building a sizeable lead. But they made all the plays in the closing minutes to fend off UT.

"We are more comfortable playing if it’s a close game," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "We don't know how to play with those big leads."

The Longhorns trailed, 38-19, with four minutes gone in the second half before finding their shooting touch. Texas closed to 49-46 with a 30-8 run over the next 10 minutes.

Sheldon McClellan scored all 10 of his points during the run to spark the comeback. Julien Lewis added eight points during that stretch. The freshman guard finished with 14.

"They finally came through big time when I wasn't hitting shots," said leading scorer J'Covan Brown, who went 6 of 15 from the field. "I just told them to keep being aggressive. They put up numbers for us."

Those numbers weren't there in the first half, though.

The Longhorns trailed, 31-17, at the break. It was Texas' lowest scoring half of the season. UT missed 13 of its first 14 shots as Cincinnati built an early 16-2 advantage.

"We were just inept offensively at the start of the game," Barnes said. "(Cincinnati) came out very aggressive and we turned the ball over and started pressing a little bit. We missed a lot of shots at the rim when we were able to get the ball up there and shoot it. It was painful to watch."

The Longhorns went 11:56 without a field goal and trailed by as many 15 in the half. UT turned the ball over six times against one assist.

"That drought isn't something that we have experienced as a team," said senior forward Clint Chapman.

Texas regrouped in the second half and found a rhythm. The Longhorns, though, stalled once they closed the gap.

"We started moving the ball and playing as a team, instead of one shot or driving into traffic, then when we (tied it) we reverted back to standing and not making the extra pass," Barnes said.

The furious second half rally after an ugly first half made the loss tougher for the Longhorns to swallow.

"We should have won this game," Barnes said.

Cincinnati dominated the post against a shorthanded Texas front line and had a 40-20 edge in points in the paint. Yancy Gates led the Bearcats with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward put the game out of reach with a jump shot to give UC a 58-52 lead with 1:11 left.

"We wanted to force that shot and I tried to contest it but he knocked it down," said Chapman, who compared Gates to Baylor's Quincy Acy.

Chapman wrapped up his senior season with a career-high 14 rebounds. He added 10 points and four blocks.

Brown led Texas with 19 points and six assists. It was the first time in four career NCAA Tournament games that the junior did not score at least 20 points.

The Longhorns lost their opening-round game for the second time in the last seven years. Texas' last early exit came in 2010 against ninth-seeded Wake Forest in New Orleans.

After the game, Brown would not address his plans on returning to school for his senior season or entering the NBA Draft in June.

When asked if the game was his last in a Longhorns' uniform, Brown responded: "I'm not going to answer that question."

"I'm going to make the decision," he added. "I'm going to talk to Coach, I'm going to talk to my parents and see what the best thing is for me. I'm not worried about moving on right now. I'm going to cherish this moment right now."

Preview

J'Covan Brown wasn't sure the Texas Longhorns would be back in the NCAA tournament before the season started.

He's glad he was wrong.

Brown, a junior guard, was one of three returning players from a Texas team that was seconds away from a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2011 NCAA Championship. During the summer, the only players he saw in the gym were fifth-year seniors Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene.

Texas added six freshmen before August, headlined by point guard Myck Kabongo. Brown, though, was still not convinced he would get another shot at the Big Dance.

"When everybody finally got in before school started we had a lot of work to do, some of our workouts weren't good," Brown said. "We had to find ways to put it together."

Now, Brown and the rookie-dominated Longhorns are in the NCAA tournament for the 14th straight season. Eleventh-seeded Texas (20-13) will face sixth-seeded Cincinnati (24-10) Friday at Bridgestone Arena in an East region matchup.

"These six freshmen are a great group of guys and the outcome shows they are willing to do whatever it takes to win games," said Brown, who leads UT with 20.1 points per game. "It really was a great experience."

That experience began with a pedestrian non-conference performance and a 3-6 start in the Big 12. Texas rallied to win six of its last nine regular season games before advancing to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns were on the tournament bubble for most of the year. But now that they're in, Kabongo and fellow freshmen Jaylen Bond, Sterling Gibbs, Jonathan Holmes and Sheldon McClellan are enjoying their first trip to the Big Dance.

"It's a great stage to play on and we've worked towards this the whole season," Kabongo said. "The (seniors) said to cherish this moment while we're here. It's a once in a lifetime experience. We're going to enjoy it and have fun."

Texas is also in unfamiliar territory as a tournament underdog. UT is an 11th seed for the first time since 1995, when they beat Oregon in the opening round.

The Longhorns, though, are fine with playing that role.

"I cherish it," said Brown, who has scored at least 20 points in all each of three NCAA tournament games. "People counted us out during the whole season, some thought we wouldn't make it. We're going to go out there and play and not worry about the critics."

Similar to the Longhorns, the Bearcats also had their doubts about a return to the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was a part of one of the low points in college basketball this season when the Bearcats brawled with rival Xavier on Dec. 10. Four Bearcats were suspended, including leading rebounder Yancy Gates.

Cincinnati regrouped to win 10 of its next 11 games and the team came out of the ordeal with a new take on the season.

"We came together as one," said senior guard Dion Dixon. "We rallied behind it, actually. We looked at it as a positive, not so much a negative. We handle adversity well."

The Bearcats are on another roll and have won seven of their last nine contests. Cincinnati advanced to the finals of the Big East tournament before losing to Louisville.

The Bearcats' success rests on Gates' broad shoulders.

The hometown senior is a force on the glass and in the paint and will challenge an injury-depleted Texas front line. Gates was third in the Big East in rebounding with 9.2 boards per game, including 3.4 on the offensive end.

"When he gives us low post presence and rebounding, it takes our team to another level," said Bearcats coach Mick Cronin.

The Longhorns are down to three forwards with Wangmene sidelined with a broken left wrist. That leaves Chapman, Bond and Holmes with the challenge of defending Gates, who Chapman compared to Baylor's Quincy Acy and Kansas' Thomas Robinson.

"He presents a lot of problems because of his size and he does a good job of getting position," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We're going to have to do our work early and not let him establish the position he wants, and we're going to have to do it without fouling. When the shot goes up we have to make a great effort to keep him off the glass."

Texas is 5-1 in its last six NCAA opening-round games. UT's last early exit was in 2010 against ninth-seeded Wake Forest in New Orleans.

J’Covan Brown, 14, struggles to get a shot off against Kansas guard Merv Lindsay, 22, during the Longhorns’ loss on Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. The Jayhawks beat Texas for the second time this season and prevented the Longhorns from getting their first signature win of the season.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks with 25 points and 14 rebounds to a 73-63 win over the Longhorns on Saturday, effectively forcing Texas’ NCAA tournament hopes on the shoulders of its performance in the Big 12 tournament.

Kansas’ squad of pro-ready athletes put Texas away in the second half on the heels of Robinson’s 18 points that period. In his last regular season game at home, senior guard Tyshawn Taylor added 22 points, including 14 in the second half, and four assists that paced the Jayhawks.

J’Covan Brown did all he could to keep his team in the mix, notching 33 points on 9-18 shooting, but Texas couldn’t get its younger players in on the mix. The Longhorn freshmen combined for just 16 points.

“I felt like we were right there in the beginning,” Brown said. “In the second half, we just made some mistakes to break the lead open [for Kansas].”

Texas was only down 21-26 at the half, but the third-best team in the country had arguably the best player in the country to pace the Jayhawks.

“He’s the best player in the country,” Texas forward Clint Chapman said of Robinson. “He took advantage of every opportunity that we have him with offensive rebounds and driving by guys.”

Robinson wasn’t the only player bruising Texas in the paint. Kansas scored 30 points in the key, compared to 16 by Texas, and it outrebounded the Longhorns 36-29. Seven-footer Jeff Withey snagged six boards for Kansas and managed nine points.

Chapman was one of many Longhorns brutalized by the big-man inside, and it hurt that the Longhorns couldn’t rely on their interior defensive specialist, Alexis Wangmene.

Normally in-and-out of the rotation because of consistent foul trouble, Wangmene left this contest at the start of the second period after sustaining a left wrist injury. Wangmene attempted to secure a defensive rebound, but came down wrapped up with a teammate and extended his hand to break his fall. There is no official timetable for his return, but the senior is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

This is ominous news for the Longhorns as they prepare for the conference tournament. They are a young, undersized team that could have used all the help they could get in the coming week. Texas head coach Rick Barnes won’t say his team has a spot wrapped up for the NCAA tournament the following week, because he knows he’ll need a nice conference tournament showing to breathe easier.

However, he also believes that Texas’ showing in the nation’s second-best conference is enough to speak for itself.

“I always believed it’s your body of work,” Barnes said. “I also have confidence in our league — if we’re the second-best league in the country, that’s where we are, I don’t know how [the Big 12] shouldn’t have six teams in [the NCAA tournament].”

On Sunday, Texas was announced as the sixth seed in the Big 12 tournament where they will face No. 3 Iowa State. Texas faced Iowa State as a sixth seed as recently as 2010, when Brown was a freshman, but the Cyclones were the eleventh team in a field of twelve. Texas won that contest 82-75.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks with 25 points and 14 rebounds to a 73-63 win over the Longhorns on Satuday.

Kansas’ squad of pro-ready athletes put Texas away in the second half on the heels of Robinson’s 18 points that period. In his last regular season game at home, senior guard Tyshawn Taylor added 22 points, including 14 in the second half, and four assists that paced the Jayhawks. J’Covan Brown lived up to his billing as the league’s best scorer, notching 33 points on 9-18 shooting, but Texas couldn’t get its younger players in on the mix. The Longhorn freshman combined for just 16 points.

Texas was only down 21-26 at the half, but the third-best team in the country, had arguably the best player in the country to pace the Jayhawks.

“He’s the best player in the country,” Texas forward Clint Chapman said of Robinson. “He took advantage of every opportunity that we gave him with offensive rebounds and driving by guys.”

Robinson wasn’t the only player bruising Texas in the paint. Kansas scored 30 points in the key, compared to 16 by Texas, and it ourebounded the Longhorns 36-29. Seven-footer Jeff Withey snagged six boards for Kansas and managed nine points.

Chapman was one of many Longhorns brutalized by the big-man inside, and it hurt that the Longhorns couldn’t rely on their interior defensive specialist, Alexis Wangmene. Wangmene attempted to secure a defensive rebound, but came down wrapped up with a teammate and extended his arm to break his fall. He left the game with a left-wrist injury. There is no official timetable for his return, but he is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Texas will take on the third-seed Iowa State Cyclones on March 8 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

Freshman guard Sheldon McClellan (1) hoists a shot over an Oklahoma defender Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Leave it to a freshman to salvage senior night for the Longhorns.

On an evening when Texas honored seniors Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene, rookie swingman Sheldon McClellan exploded for a career-high 24 points to keep Texas’ NCAA tournament hopes alive.

It was the final regular season home game for UT and its two seniors, but McClellan reminded everyone that Texas is still a freshman-dominated team. He sparked a decisive 12-5 run late in the second half to propel Texas past Oklahoma, 72-64, on Wednesday night.

The freshman exchanged 3-pointers with J’Covan Brown as each made two from the corner during the run that gave UT its first lead of the game. McClellan’s hot shooting helped Texas turn a five-point deficit into a 62-60 advantage with 5:40 to play.

“The momentum changed and we started to pick it up defensively,” McClellan said.

McClellan started for just the eighth time this season. He replaced an injured Julien Lewis, who sat with back discomfort. McClellan found out he would start on Tuesday, and was hesitant for the opening minutes.

A missed 3-pointer and a turnover landed him on the bench early, but McClellan regrouped to score 12 points before halftime.

“I kind of got discouraged in the first half when I was missing my shots early,” he said. “Coaches told me to keep shooting and that’s what I did.”

Whenever Oklahoma tried to pull away in the second half, McClellan seemed to deliver a timely basket.

“McClellan had a terrific night,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “He stepped up and made some big baskets at critical times.”

The Houston native’s previous career-high was 23 points versus UT-Arlington on Dec. 6. McClellan had a streak of six games scoring in double digits stopped on Saturday at Texas Tech, but he notched his 19th game with at least 10 points Wednesday.

Chapman and Wangmene were honored before the game, along with student athletic trainer Joe Martinez. Each player received a framed jersey and was given a special introduction.

“This was their last game at home and we couldn’t let them down,” said point guard Myck Kabongo, who had nine assists and is one of six UT freshmen. “That was a big part of our run.”

Champan greeted his parents, Kenny and Jenny, as well as his brother, Alex, and sister, Kelly, at midcourt during a special ceremony before tip-off.

Wangmene was joined by his high school coach, Joe Mantenga (Blair Academy, Blairstown, N.J.). The forward fought back tears while taking pictures.

Chapman and Wangmene are each in their fifth year with the Longhorns. Chapman redshirted last season. Wangmene received a medical redshirt during the 2008-09 season because of a right knee injury.

Their senior campaigns haven’t gone anything like the previous four, though. Both evolved into starters and are logging over 21 minutes per game. Neither player had ever scored in double figures prior to this year. But both have scored at least 10 points in six games.

“Myck made a really good point about finding a way to win this game for these [seniors],” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes. “That’s the respect that they’ve earned from these younger guys.”

Printed on Thursday, March 1, 2012 as: McClellan lifts UT to victory

Clint Chapman soars for one of his many dunks against Texas Tech. Chapman’s presence as a role player is often determines Texas’ fate.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Freshman guard Myck Kabongo drove the length of the floor with the ball and glided to the rim for what looked like a sure two points, but Clint Chapman wasn’t taking any chances. The 6-feet-10-inch, 245-pound senior ran the 90 feet with Kabongo and slammed home an emphatic dunk — his favorite of the night, and he had a few to choose from — off the Kabongo miss to help push the lead before halftime.

“[My favorite dunk] was the one in transition where Myck [Kabongo] couldn’t hear me yelling at him for the trail pass, and I had the offensive rebound put-back,” Chapman said. “Because we laughed about it and he told me I needed to call his name. So in the second half, one of the exact same things happened, and I had another put-back.”

Conventional wisdom would say that as a team’s star goes, so too does the team. But J’Covan Brown is Texas’ star, and after Saturday’s matchup against Texas Tech, it seems as though the adage may not hold true. The real force behind the rest of Texas’ schedule? Chapman.

He had a career-high 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in Texas’ dismantling of the Red Raiders, numbers well above his season averages. When Chapman has scored double digits in conference play, Texas scoring margin against its opponents is +14 compared to just +1 in games where he scores less than ten points.

Chapman was on the receiving end of passes into the post that gave him easy looks at the bucket. It was the first time in a long time the Longhorns were able to work the ball inside as schemed. In the past, Texas head coach Rick Barnes publicly expressed frustration with his team’s inability to work within the flow of the offensive game plan. Chapman’s points came from working the offense as planned, which opened up easy baskets inside.

“A lot of my stuff came in the flow,” he said. “When it comes out of the offense, our guards make it so easy. You really don’t have to think about it, you just have to finish the ball.”

These types of performances have come too few and far in between for the Longhorns who are fighting to prove they’re tournament worthy. And while his numbers were worthy of praise, critics point out that this game came against the worst team in the Big 12. Against ranked opponents, Chapman’s numbers are timid. He’s putting up 7.4 points and five rebounds a game against ranked opponents.

As the Longhorns prepare for the “softer” part of their schedule, his presence will be instrumental in determining if Texas can right a ship that has been off course these last two weeks. Without Chapman as the viable post player Texas needs to keep its offense running, Texas is out of options at the position. His experience trumps Jonathan Holmes and Jaylen Bond, and he has outperformed Alexis Wangmene all year. Defensively, Chapman has played to his size and hasn’t been afraid to stand bigger men up and defend them one-on-one.

Going into a hostile environment for what could be the final Texas-Texas A&M basketball matchup in a long time tonight, Texas will need Chapman to be as big a force as he was against Tech. Last time out, Chapman notched 11 points and nine rebounds against the Aggies in a win at home. On the road, Chapman has had his struggles and in College Station for the last time, the noise will blow the roof off.

“Obviously through my experience it’s one of the toughest places to play in this league. It’s tough to explain unless you see it yourself,” Chapman said. “I’m the type of player that loves to play on the road and loves a good crowd on the road. What we want to do is end it with a win.”

If Chapman can contribute on the glass and in the paint as well as he did against Texas Tech, the Longhorns should have clear advantage. The Aggies don’t rebound or score the ball particularly well, but they are good defenders. So while they’ll have their hands full stopping Texas’ athletic guards, it will be the under-the-radar hero Chapman who could determine the outcome of this one-last bought.

Freshman guard Sheldon McClellan raises up for a basket as a Texas Tech defender tries to draw a charge. McClellan was aggressive as he recorded 17 points and three rebounds against the Red Raiders. He had scored four points total in the two games prior.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns figured out one way to avoid their late-game woes: blow out the other team.

Texas cruised past Texas Tech, 74-57, on Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center. After weeks of crushing defeats in the final seconds to some of the best teams in the country, the Longhorns took their frustrations out on the Big 12's worst.

“When people are getting after you, you need to fight back,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for UT (14-9, 4-6 Big 12). The Longhorns had dropped five of their last six games — with four losses to top 10 teams — but they had little trouble taking care of the lowly Red Raiders (7-15, 0-9).

Clint Chapman had a career-best 20 points to go along with nine rebounds to lead Texas, who had three players with double-digit points.

Guards J'Covan Brown and Sheldon McClellan each added 17. Texas' leading scorer was someone other than Brown for only the seventh time this season.

McClellan, a freshman, did most of his damage from around the rim and consistently beat his man to the hoop.

“I've never seen him attack the basket as well as he did tonight,” Chapman said. “He didn't give up on that the entire game. He can get easy shots and jump over people.”

Chapman blocked five shots and the senior forward helped Texas dominate the paint. UT had a 41-25 advantage on the boards. The Longhorns scored 15 second-chance points on the strength of 16 offensive rebounds, with Chapman and Brown each grabbing four.

“We couldn't score inside and we couldn't keep them from scoring,” said Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie. “They put up a shield around the basket.”

Texas was also the aggressor on offense and made 25 of 31 free throws. Tech only attempted 14 and made nine. The Longhorns converted 19 of 22 free throws in the first half to build a 40-25 lead at the break.

UT improved to 14-0 against the Red Raiders in Austin during the Rick Barnes era. The Longhorns are 13-2 at home this season.

The Longhorns built a 25-point lead in the second half, 62-37, the team's largest lead in Big 12 play.

Printed on Monday, February 6, 2012 as: Longhorns make quick work of Red Raiders

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns figured out one way to avoid their late-game woes: blow out the other team.

Texas cruised past Texas Tech, 74-57, on Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center. After weeks of crushing defeats in the final seconds to some of the best teams in the country, the Longhorns took out their frustrations on the Big 12's worst.

"When people are getting after you, you need to fight back," said Texas coach Rick Barnes.

The victory ended a two-game losing streak for UT (14-9, 4-6 Big 12). The Longhorns had dropped five of their last six games--with four losses to top 10 teams--but they had little trouble taking care of the lowly Red Raiders (7-15, 0-9).

Clint Chapman had a career-best 20 points to go along with nine rebounds to lead Texas, who had three players with double-digit points. Guards J'Covan Brown and Sheldon McClellan each added 17. Texas' leading scorer was someone other than Brown for only the seventh time this season.

McClellan, a freshman, did most of his damage from around the rim and consistently beat his man to the hoop.

"I've never seen him attack the basket as well as he did tonight," Chapman said. "He didn't give up on that the entire game. He can get easy shots and jump over people."

McClellan started for the first time in six games and said his mindset was to get better looks and not settle for outside shots.

"The last few games I haven't been too aggressive," he said. "That's something I wanted to come out and do today. I think I did that."

Chapman blocked five shots and the senior forward helped Texas dominate the paint. UT had a 41-25 advantage on the boards. The Longhorns scored 15 second-chance points on the strength of 16 offensive rebounds (Chapman and Brown each grabbed four).

"We couldn't score inside and we couldn't keep them from scoring," said Texas Tech coach Billy Gillespie. "They put up a shield around the basket."

Texas was also the aggressor on offense and made 25 of 31 free throws. Tech only attempted 14 and made nine. The Longhorns converted 19 of 22 free throws in the first half to build a 40-25 lead at the break.

UT improved to 14-0 against the Red Raiders in Austin during the Rick Barnes era. The Longhorns are 13-2 at home this season.

Freshman point guard Myck Kabongo attempts a layup in a win on Tuesday night against Iowa State. Kabongo responded well after poor performances in the last few games, with 13 points and a quality night running the offense the way it is supposed to be.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Freshmen Myck Kabongo and Julien Lewis finished with 13 and 12 points respectively to help the Longhorns pull off a sloppy 55-62 win against a scrappy Iowa State team.

“As long as we are making progress in the process I’m good with [the win],” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said of the dogfight of a game. “When we had the lead we got careless and we had four or five possessions without scoring, but overall I think we made some progress tonight.”

Barnes, who made his concerns of Kabongo’s sometimes ineffective handling of the offense public after the loss to Kansas, was pleased with his point guard’s effort last night. He felt that Kabongo ran the offense the way it was supposed to in the second half, and Kabongo was pleased with the step forward he took tonight. However, he still thinks he has a ways to go.

“I am just trying to work harder every day,” Kabongo said. “I will be in the gym tomorrow morning just continuing to work out. I need to get better and everyone else on our team needs to get better.”

Kabongo ended the game with 13 points, two assists, and the game winning steal-turned-layup.

No one ever said a win had to be pretty, and when you play in the Big 12, you take victories any way you can get them. Texas shot 40-percent from the floor, but it was its defense that held the Cyclones to 31 percent shooting and less than 25 percent from beyond the arc that sealed the deal. Iowa State’s leading scorer, Royce White, notched 15 hard-earned points, but no one else on the squad stepped up.

The Longhorns spent the first seven minutes of the game playing catch-up as the Cyclones jumped out to an early lead. But after a Texas timeout, it closed out first half with 20-9 run that was earned though forward Clint Chapman’s big presence inside.

“[Texas] strung together shots. Texas had a big momentum basket at the end of the first half when Clint Chapman got an offensive put-back that put Texas up by six,” Hoiberg said.

Refusing to let a poor first half slow down the trigger happy guard, J’Covan Brown finally hit his first shot, a 3-pointer, at the start of the second-half, and then hit another the very next possession. However, Brown couldn’t find his rhythm beyond that, and it was his teammates, for the first time this season, that propped the team up.

“My shots were just not going in,” Brown said who ended up with 12 points on 3-16 shooting. “Some of them were contested, but I can make tough shots. They were just not falling. You can give credit to the defense, but just overall they were not going in.”

“[Brown] is obviously one of our better scorers on the team, but we can’t really rely on him in that sense,” Chapman said. “What we talked about before the game was getting shots within our offense and that is what we did well.”

Texas extended its lead in the second period. With 15 minutes to go in the second half, the ball hit the deck and the two squads spent about 10 seconds scrapping for the ball as it bounced freely around hardwood. When a Cyclone finally ended up with the ball on the other end of the scrum, Jaylen Bond chased him 30 feet down the floor and stole it which was a testament to Texas’ hunger after dropping three straight games.

“The win is huge,” Chapman said. “Dropping three [games] in a row is something that this program does not like to see. Unless we are putting wins in that column, we are not happy.”

Printed on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 as: Texas wins in dogfight

Clint Chapman had his best game of the season against one of the best teams in the conference Saturday afternoon, but even that wasn’t enough to help the Longhorns pull out the upset. And don’t tell him that his performance is worthy of a moral victory.

“It’s hard to take any positives out of something like this because this is a program built on winning,” Chapman said.

“Losing by three points is still a loss in the win-loss column. If you base your program on moral victories, you can’t grow.”

Still, Chapman’s stat line was impressive. He notched 15 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and one assist in 34 minutes, numbers way above his season averages. On the glass, Chapman had the tough task of keeping Kansas’ seven-footer away from the ball, but found the grit to keep Jeff Withey in check.

“Playing 19 minutes in the second half is something I’ve never done before. We wanted to be physical with [Withey], and we hit him early. That was my mentality, especially when it came to rebounding. If I wasn’t going to get the rebound then he definitely wasn’t going to get it.”

It was just the kind of game he needed after being called out by the media on a few occasions for his lack of physicality.

But it wasn’t just his newly-displayed tough guy mentality that helped fuel Texas’ furious comeback. Chapman was the emotional leader of team Saturday, a role that has been vacant much of the season.

After making a pair of free throws to give Texas its only lead of the game, Chapman made his way to center court and pumped his fists to urge the Frank Erwin Center, and its biggest basketball crowd of the year, to get even louder.

Rick Barnes was pleased with Chapman’s work in the paint, and was even frustrated that the team didn’t look for him and the other bigs inside early in the game.

“Early in the game, we wanted to run and run hard and post up, and I’m telling you early in the game, [Texas’ big men] were there,” Barnes said. “And we never even looked at them. So that’s the plays you’ve got to make.”

With a game like Saturday’s behind him, Chapman will likely see more playing time as the daunting Big 12 schedule roars on. It’s a position he hasn’t been in before, but is happy to fill because he only cares about one thing — wins.

“Confidence can always help you, but we want to win games,” he said. “That is the most important thing right now.