junior guard

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford lays the ball up against Oklahoma. McGee-Stafford finished with 11 points and 10 boards as Texas advances to the Big 12 tournament conference finals.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

A stifling defense is what wins the Longhorns games — and possibly even championships. 

In the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship semifinal against Oklahoma on Sunday, Texas held the Sooners to 26 percent shooting — their worst shooting percentage all season. The Longhorns scored 18 points off 22 turnovers and defeated their rival, 59–46.

Despite an injury-filled season, Texas, the preseason favorites to win the Big 12, now sits in the final game Monday with a chance to fulfill that prophecy.

“I would say that this was just a team effort defensively,” head coach Karen Aston said.  “A lot of players made some plays for us, but I thought the difference in the game was our team defense.”

The Texas defense held Oklahoma to just 8-of-30 shooting in the second half, while the offense ended the game converting eight of 10 baskets in the final 10 minutes.

Despite boasting more underclassmen, Texas’ experienced players paved the way for Texas.

Junior guard Brady Sanders tied the team high with 11 points, going 2-of-2 from the 3-point line. In the second half, junior guard Celina Rodrigo and senior guard Krystle Henderson could not miss from the perimeter, combining for four 3-point baskets. Texas shot a season-high 50 percent — 6-of-12 — from behind the arc.

The Longhorns used their depth to open up the game. The Texas bench scored 32 of the team’s 59 points. Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford came off the bench to collect a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. 

“We have [junior guard Empress Davenport] coming off the bench, who has been a three-year starter, and we made the decision to bring Imani off the bench also,” Aston said.  “You can’t start but five, and those two have accepted their roles, and they’re really the difference in our team right now. And you have Celina and Krystle coming off the bench, so our bench is strong.”

Despite a 4–8 start to conference play, Texas has won seven of its last eight games. The team seems to have caught a groove and the players have become familiar with their roles.

Well, the journey has been tough, but we overcame the adversity that was put upon us, and I think that’s what it’s all about,” sophomore guard Brianna Taylor said. “Basketball is a game of up and downs, and it’s how you handle it, so I think that we’re handling it pretty well now.”

This is the first time since 2004 that Texas will play in the conference championship final. Texas faces Baylor, who won both regular season matchups against Texas, on Monday. 

“It’s going to be a good game, a fun game, and we’ve been waiting for this chance, so we’re going to redeem ourselves,” Henderson said.

The game is set for 8 p.m. at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. 

“I think third time’s a charm, so we’re going to get them [and] we’re going to beat them,” Taylor said. “That’s my mindset.”

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang had 19 points and 10 rebounds in her second double-double of the season. She helped the Longhorns outscore TCU 36–10 in the paint.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Texas made a statement Tuesday night — just ahead of the Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns jumped all over TCU in the second half to win by 34 and send a message to the rest of the conference.

“I believe we are better than anybody in this league,” head coach Karen Aston said.

And when the Big 12 tournament begins Friday, TCU will once again have to face off in the quarterfinals against a Texas squad that is firing on all cylinders. 

“I’m looking for hungry dogs,” Aston said of her team’s fight heading into tournament play.

However, the final score, 79–45, doesn’t tell the whole story. The game wasn’t a rout during the first half. 

Maybe Texas was still sluggish from its overtime loss in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sunday. Or maybe its nine turnovers helped keep the Horned Frogs (17–12, 9–9 Big 12) close in the first half. Either way, the Longhorns (20–9, 9–9 Big 12) led by just 5 points at halftime despite an 11-point burst from junior guard Brady Sanders.  

“We need to play attention to detail,” Aston said.

The team took Aston’s advice in the second half as they came out and executed almost flawlessly, turning the ball over just four times. 

Behind sophomore center Kelsey Lang’s 13 points and eight rebounds in the second half, Texas rolled as it made up for its loss to TCU earlier in the year. The Longhorns outscored TCU by 29 in the half, shooting 55 percent from the field and holding the Horned Frogs to a meager 25 percent.

Texas took advantage of its size, going to the rim on offense and keeping TCU outside. Texas outscored TCU in the paint by a wide 36–10 margin and forced TCU to jack up 22 from deep, where they made just three shots. Lang finished with her second double-double of the season, as she tallied 19 points and 10 boards. 

Apart from Lang, the rest of the scoring was balanced. The bench had itself a nice game, outscoring TCU’s sideline, 33–6.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford had 9 points and four blocks. Sophomore guard Brianna Taylor also chipped in on the glass, bringing down 10 rebounds. 

While Texas’ scoring came from many sources, TCU’s offense was bunched. Junior guard Zahna Medley, junior forward Veja Hamilton and senior guard Natalie Ventress combined for 39 of TCU’s 45. The rest of the team shot 1-of-25 from the field and 3-of-9 from the free-throw line.

The win came on an emotional night that honored the team’s seniors: forward Nneka Enemkpali and guard Krystle Henderson. Enemkpali tore her ACL earlier in the year, effectively ending her college career. 

“Today is their day,” Aston said. “Our day.”

Junior guard Brady Sanders drives past a Kansas State defender. Sanders had a career night in which she scored 18 points and made four 3-pointers
Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Blow out!

The Longhorns (17–8, 6–8 Big 12) won their second consecutive game Wednesday night as they beat Kansas State (15–10, 5–9 Big 12), 76–58, thanks to a career night from junior guard Brady Sanders and a strong team shooting performance.

Sanders’ 18 points and four 3-pointers were both career highs, and Texas collectively found its pace by not rushing shots and playing better defense.

“I thought Brady got us off to a terrific start and really calmed our team,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “Then we settled in and played a nice game.”

Wednesday marked the first time Texas has won consecutive games since emerging victorious in its first two conference games.

“There were a lot of great decisions made,” Aston said. “Basically, I thought everyone who went into the game contributed something, so, overall, it was a really good team performance.”

The Kansas State 2-3 defense forced errant shots from Texas, as the Longhorns missed their first seven field goals. But the buckets started to fall when Sanders hit the team’s first shot.

“Really my only focus was getting the win,” Sanders said. “And it just so happened that my shots fell tonight, and my teammates put me in a good position to score.”

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins notched her fifth conference game in double figures with 11 points Wednesday. Atkins said the way Sanders played tonight gave the whole team a boost.

“When she’s out there smiling and laughing on the court, it gives us the confidence to be like, ‘Oh, okay, she’s having a good time, so we can too,’” Atkins said.

With injuries striking the team hard, Aston said the Longhorns continued to find ways to fit into unfamiliar roles.

“Their roles changed so much,” Aston said. “But I do think we’ve had some constancy with what we’re asking each person to do, so I think that gives them some comfort … and allowed them to settle in. I think they’re having some fun now, which is good to see.”

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang, who didn’t score her first point until early in the second half, ended the game with 9 points and four boards, while junior center Imani McGee-Stafford had 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. 

Texas won the turnover battle against a Kansas State team that ranks second in the conference with 9.1 steals per game. The Longhorns caused 19 turnovers, eight of which were steals. 

Texas sits three games away from a 20-win season, one of the early goals for the team, according to Aston. With four regular season games remaining, the Longhorns look to continue their winning streak with a game against Texas Tech on Saturday.

“I do think that [the team] is confident, but it’s one game at a time,” Aston said. “We worried about tonight, and tomorrow we’ll wake up and start figuring out how to win in Lubbock. We don’t need to look past that at all.”

After suffering his third concussion in a year, junior guard Javan Felix is concerned about his future in basketball.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Junior guard Javan Felix’s concussion, which he suffered on Jan. 31 against Baylor, was serious enough to keep him out of two games.

But now, the injury appears to be even more significant than people originally realized, as Felix revealed Wednesday that the concussion was his third of the last calendar year. He said his first concussion happened on Feb. 1 of last year in a home win over Kansas, and his second came this season at some point in October.

After 10 days of rest and monitoring, he returned Wednesday night to lead Texas with 16 points and four made 3-pointers in its win over TCU. 

“I healed up well, thank God,” Felix said.

Felix said he had no prior history of concussions before suffering his first 12 months ago, but, after sustaining three in such a short period of time, he said he is worried.

“Of course,” Felix said. “It’s my brain. The only way to stop this is to not play, and I love basketball. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. I healed up, and I felt like I was ready to go, so I’m going to play as long as I can.”

However, if he suffers one more, he said he would deeply consider ending his career.

“I am worried about it,” Felix said. “Probably if I get hit hard, if it’s a real bad one, I won’t be able to play again.”

Felix, who missed one game last season after his first concussion, said he must do a better job of listening to his teammates and being aware of what’s happening around him.

Felix has been Texas’ best perimeter shooter and most reliable scorer off the bench. The junior is averaging 10.5 points and 26.1 minutes per game in 21 games for Texas this season. He leads the Longhorns with 40 made 3-pointers, and he is posting career bests in field goal percentage (.433) and 3-point percentage (.396).

Of course, the team is far more worried about his long-term health then it is in his ability to continue suiting up for games this season.

“We are concerned about Javan, especially with the game the way it is,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “Concussions are always something you
worry about.”

Felix said he felt fine following his first game back Wednesday. He is expected to play once again Saturday when the Longhorns host Texas Tech.

Texas (16–8, 5–6 Big 12) is striving for another win against the bottom-feeding Red Raiders (12–13, 2–10 Big 12), as its schedule gets much harder after Saturday. The Longhorns are slated to play five consecutive games against ranked opponents — three of which are on the road — before closing out the season at home against unranked Kansas State on March 7.

The Longhorns topped Texas Tech, 70–61, in Lubbock on Jan. 3 in their first matchup this season.

Texas head coach Rick Barnes earned his 600th career win Wednesday night. Barnes has been on the Longhorns’ sideline for 17 years.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Fresh off Wednesday’s win — the 600th of Rick Barnes’ head coaching career — junior guard Javan Felix had a suggestion on how his coach should celebrate: “Dance.”

“I just want to turn some music on in the locker room, and we all get around him — everyone in the program — and just let him dance,” Felix said.

Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy suggested the team put on a Katy Perry song.

Although the players have never seen it, Barnes insists he can dance, but he’ll only do it on his own terms.

“I probably can dance better than Javan,” Barnes said.

The longtime Texas coach was in an especially good mood after the Longhorns’ 66–43 victory over TCU, as it propelled Barnes into an echelon few others occupy. 

Barnes, who has spent the past 17 years as head coach of the Longhorns, improved to 398–174 in his career at Texas and 600–308 overall. He previously coached at George Mason, Providence and Clemson in his first 11 seasons before taking over at Texas in 1998.

“I’ve been fortunate and blessed,” Barnes said. “I became a head coach at a very young age. … I’ve never worked for anything but a great athletic director. I’ve had great support from players and coaching staffs.”

For Barnes, Wednesday’s win was much more important than the milestone since his team hadn’t won at home since Jan. 17. Before beating Kansas State, it had lost four straight to plummet down the Big 12 standings.

“Winning the game tonight was more important than [No. 600]”, Barnes said. “I still have faith and confidence in this group of guys. They deserve it.”

The Longhorns’ zone defense stifled the TCU offense all night long. The Horned Frogs struggled mightily to get anything going inside against Texas’ far superior frontcourt, forcing them to settle for low-percentage looks outside of the paint. TCU shot just 28.8 percent from the field and scored a paltry 16 points in the first half.

TCU didn’t have anyone to match up with junior center Cam Ridley, and Texas made a living off of feeding him the ball down low. He scored 15 points, his most in seven games, while racking up four blocks and a season-best 12 rebounds.

“The guards just looked for me throughout the game,” Ridley said. “I just tried to play as hard as I could on the glass, and obviously that worked well for me.”

The Longhorns didn’t just dominate down low, however. Felix led all scorers with 16 points after missing the last two games with a concussion. Yancy also enjoyed his most prolific game since the start of conference play, racking up 12 points and four rebounds.

After the game, however, Yancy was quick to switch the focus back to Barnes.

“He expects excellence out of everybody,” Yancy said. “He teaches us how to be self-disciplined and to be thankful for being at this University. He reminds us that we’re blessed to be here, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. … Just getting a relationship and getting to play for Rick Barnes — it’s an honor to play for him.”

With the win, the Longhorns improved to 16–8 on the season and 5–6 in conference play. They face another very beatable opponent at home Saturday in Texas Tech (12–13, 2–10 Big 12), before beginning a stretch of five consecutive games against ranked opponents.

If they can pile up some more wins during that rigorous stretch, Barnes and his players will have even more reason to dance.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty drives past the Baylor defense. McCarty had her game-tying shot blocked at the end.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

With two minutes remaining in the game, and down by 5 points, Texas found itself in a position to end its losing skid. But Baylor proved to be too much once again — and the Longhorns fell to the Bears for the second time this season, 70-68.

Three pointers from freshman guard Brooke McCarty and junior guard Brady Sanders cut the deficit to 4 points in the waning minutes for Texas. After a missed Baylor field goal, sophomore guard Brianna Taylor’s mid-ranged jumper made it a 2-point game, and, with less than a minute remaining, Texas had the opportunity to tie, or even win. But Baylor forward Nina Davis blocked McCarty’s floater, and it was all over.

“It was a play that I felt like we were comfortable running,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I did think we could get to the next portion of the play, which would have been an odd ball with [sophomore center Kelsey Lang] coming out the setting one with [freshman guard Ariel Atkins], which would have gotten them in a two-man game.”

Sanders said she felt the failure of the last play. 

“I missed Ariel coming off the screen, and I should have tried to definitely get it to her,” Sanders said. “But I shouldn’t have had that mistake.”

Sunday’s match is the 10th straight time the Bears defeated the Longhorns, who now sit at 4–7 in the Big 12. Baylor found holes in Texas 2–3 defense in both halves finding quality looks for 3-point shots and penetrating the lane. Aston said despite the team’s shortcomings, she felt encouraged by their performance.

“Obviously there are no moral victories in this game at all, but I’m pleased with the way we played the game today,” Aston said.” I think if we can build on this then we can get back on track.”

Lang picked up a double-double, scoring 20 points with 11 boards. Sanders led the team with six assists, joining double-digits club with 14 points, and Taylor ended with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Junior guard Empress Davenport returned to action and played 22 minutes with 2 points, but ultimately fouled out. She had missed the last two games after injuring her right shoulder.

Despite the loss, Aston said she felt this was the first game where the team was ready to move forward from the adversity it has faced this season. Lang also said she thinks the team is starting to understand how to move forward without senior forward Nneka Enemkpali.

“No one person is going to fill what she was, because she was an amazing player,” Lang said. “But we are all starting to realize we need to take on a little part of her role. Hopefully that will help fill the void.”

Texas returns to action Wednesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against Oklahoma State.

Junior shooting guard Javan Felix was knocked down hard on a screen Saturday against Baylor and will miss Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

After suffering perhaps its most surprising loss of conference play, falling to an unranked Oklahoma State team in Stillwater, Oklahoma, No. 25 Texas will get the opportunity to avenge the loss when they host the Cowboys at the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday. They’ll have to do it without one of their top weapons off the bench: junior guard Javan Felix.

Felix, who averages 10.2 points per game and leads the Longhorns with 36 3-pointers this season, was ruled out for the game with a concussion. A Texas press release issued Tuesday afternoon did not specify when Felix suffered the concussion, but he was visibly shaken up after running into a hard screen from Baylor forward Taurean Prince on Saturday that left him on the floor for the entirety of Baylor’s possession.

Without Felix, who has made at least one 3-pointer in 19 of his 20 games this season, the Longhorns’ already-thin backcourt depth will be tested. Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy, who has only seen more than 12 minutes in a game one time since the start of conference play, will likely see an uptick in minutes behind starting guards sophomore Isaiah Taylor and junior Demarcus Holland.

The injury comes at a difficult time for Texas, when the team is in desperate need of a victory after dropping each of its past three games and five of its past seven to fall to 3–5 in conference play. The Longhorns have struggled to find much rhythm offensively throughout the three-game losing skid, and senior forward Jonathan Holmes said he believes they need to start playing stronger defense to make up for their
offensive inefficiency.

“Offensively, if you’re not making shots, the urgency on defense should be even higher,” Holmes said. “It starts on defense, and we have to go
from there.”

The Longhorns struggled on defense in the second half against Oklahoma State last month, surrendering 41 points after halftime to the Cowboys. Oklahoma State’s senior forward Le’Bryan Nash and junior guard Phil Forte each scored 20 points in the game to give Texas its fourth consecutive loss in Stillwater.

Historically, Texas usually tells a different story when the Cowboys travel to Austin. The Longhorns boast a 26–12 all-time record at home against Oklahoma State, and they’ve won nine of their past 10 matchups against the Cowboys at the Erwin Center.

Still, it will be up to Texas to overcome its recent shooting woes–and the loss of Felix–to continue its success against Oklahoma State and get the season back on track.

“We have to get better,” Holmes said. “That’s the main thing right now. When we’re not shooting the ball well, we have to find a way to win games.”

The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. 

Down two points to No. 6 Stanford with six seconds remaining, No. 10 Texas relied upon its experience and depth on the road as junior guard Empress Davenport penetrated the lane for a layup to send the game into overtime.

Facing the team that ended top-ranked UConn’s 47-game winning streak in overtime early this week, Texas pulled away late to outlast the Cardinal in the extra stanza, 87-81.

The win marks the first time Texas beat Stanford in Palo Alto, California, since 1981. The Longhorns also ended the Cardinal’s 28-game home win streak at Maples Pavilion.

Texas jumped out to a six-point lead over the Cardinals at halftime but the second half featured a slightly different story. The Longhorns did not score a point for the first 4:35 of the second period. After that, Texas would match Stanford point-for-point — halfway through the second half both teams scored a total of 31 points in five minutes.

But for the first time since the opening half, Stanford took the lead with less than two minutes remaining.

After Davenport’s game tying layup, Stanford tied the game in overtime with less than a minute remaining but junior guard Brady Sanders' jumper gave Texas a lead it would not relinquish. Late points from freshmen guard Brook McCarty increased the lead and secured the victory for the Longhorns.

Texas shot 48.5 percent from the field. Senior forward Nneka Enemkpali led the team in points with 18 but fouled out in the second half. Davenport fouled out in overtime.

The team amassed 30 personal fouls and had five players with three fouls with less than eight minutes left in the second half.

Freshmen guard Ariel Atkins scored 16 points and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc making two. Sanders led the team with 4 assists, while sophomore center Kelsey Lang shot 7 for 12 from the field with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Texas will look to regain energy quickly as it ends its road trip Sunday against the UCLA Bruins at 3 p.m. 

When he heard Texas A&M had retroactively claimed national titles from the 1919 and 1927 seasons, junior guard Mason Walters did what many people did when they heard the news — he laughed.

“Oh, so like before Prohibition?” Walters joked. “I’m just going to wish A&M luck in the SEC, and I hope they do well. I’m going to read up on that because I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t have an opinion.”

Walters is actually half right. The first of those retroactively claimed national championships actually came during a season that happened before the Prohibition era, which lasted from 1920 to 1933 in the United States — proving how laughable the notion of retroactively claiming national titles actually is.

By claiming those national titles, the Aggies proved why Texas and everyone else in the Big 12 is better without them.

Using A&M’s method of crediting itself with every national title that any organization has ever given it credit for, Texas could more than double the number of championships it has.

The Longhorns recognize four national titles they’ve won — in 1963, 1969, 1970 and 2005 — but were awarded championships by various organizations in five other years (1914, 1941, 1968, 1977, 1981).

More than two dozen organizations have awarded college football national championships at one time or another. The BCS system, which pits the top two ranked teams in a national title game, was not used until 1998. Before then, it was not uncommon for multiple teams to lay legitimate claims to national titles in the same year.

Texas men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds said the Longhorns are not considering claiming additional national championships, although a team spokesman said that the idea has been explored. Dodds said he was unaware of Texas A&M laying claim to the 1919 and 1927 titles.

Texas won all eight of its games in 1914, marking one of seven seasons where the Longhorns went undefeated without claiming a national title, all of them between 1893 and 1923. They lost one game in each of the 1941, 1968, 1977 and 1981 seasons, although Texas went 10-1 in its 1970 national title campaign. That was the only championship Texas has claimed that wasn’t recognized by the Associated Press.

The Longhorns lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl that year, 24-11, a similar way they ended the 1977 season. Under first-year head coach Fred Akers, Texas won all 11 of its regular season contests before falling to the Fighting Irish, 38-10, in the 1977 Cotton Bowl. Texas claimed a national title in 1970 but not 1977.

In their defense, the Aggies are playing in a new conference. Eight of the other 13 teams in the SEC have won national titles before, collectively capturing 38 championships, including all of the last six. The ability to tell top-notch high school football players that they have won three national championships instead of one is sure to bring more blue-chip recruits to College Station, right?

“Obviously you want to go to a winning program,” senior safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “I think it’s nice to go with teams that are winning them a little more recently, in your generation. But nothing against [Texas A&M].”

Ironically, the Aggies head coach in 1919 and 1927 — Dana X. Bible — is the same man that served as the Longhorns head coach when Texas won an unclaimed national title in 1941.

“They didn’t even wear helmets back then,” Vaccaro said.

Texas A&M added “1997” and “2010” under the display on the northwest wall of Kyle Field showing which years it won Big 12 titles, although the Aggies are reportedly planning on changing it to reflect Big 12 South Division championships.

The Aggies won nine regular season games in 1997, going 6-2 in Big 12 play, the best mark of any team in the South Division. They lost to Nebraska, 54-15, in the conference title game that year as the Huskers went on to win their fifth national championship.

Texas A&M also won six of eight games against conference opponents in 2010, finishing in a three-way tie with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Sooners, who were ranked higher and boasted a better record, represented the Big 12 South in the conference title game, beating Nebraska, 23-20.

By the same logic, Texas could award itself a 2008 Big 12 South crown. A crushing, last-second-loss in Lubbock that season kept the Longhorns from putting together an undefeated regular season and put them in a three-way tie with Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. Again, the Sooners got the nod to play in the conference title game, destroying Missouri, 62-21, before falling to Florida in the BCS National Championship.

But the Longhorns employ better logic than that. They realize how petty it would be to retroactively claim championships of any kind. Blue-chip recruits know that if they want to play for the best college football team in the Lone Star State, they’ll head to Texas, not Texas A&M.

Men's Basketball

Brown (14) dribbles during Texas’ win on Sunday. The junior tied his career high of 28 points and had eight assists.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

In the same play that Texas almost lost its leader, it found him.

After sinking a three pointer in the waning minutes of the first half, junior guard J’Covan Brown fell to the floor and clutched his ankle. The Frank Erwin Center let out a collective gasp, but not a single coach came to tend to him. He wouldn’t have wanted them to anyway.

“The referees said that if someone came and got me, they’d have to sub me out,” Brown said. “So Myck [Kabongo] came over to me and told me to just get up, and I got up.”

Turns out, it was as simple as getting up for Brown. He easily recovered from the tweak and collected a cool 12 points after the fall and 28 total points on the game. He even contributed eight assists and four rebounds. By the time the second half rolled around, Brown was walking up and down the court with a swagger that screamed “challenge me” to the Boston University Terriers.

BU’s first-year head coach, Joe Jones, was happy his team didn’t have to challenge Brown anymore after the game.

“[Brown] doesn’t need a lot of time to get it off,” Jones said.

“He shoots with a lot of confidence, and anytime we made a poor decision on how to guard him, he made us pay.”

Brown said he felt “comfortable” all game, and it was evident from the get-go. He opened up the game with a quick three pointer to give Texas its first points. He lit the score board up from then on, hitting 52 percent of his shots on 10 of 19 shooting.

Head coach Rick Barnes entrusted Brown with a leadership role at the start of the season, and he didn’t disappoint. He worked so efficiently that he had already matched his career high in points — 28 — with 13 minutes left in the game.

When the match was out of reach, Brown wasn’t done. He scrapped trying to simply add to his record point total and focused instead on dishing the ball around. He made a laser pass to the corner to find an open Julien Lewis for the trey which was a decision Barnes was especially pleased with. Barnes said his guard’s smart passing decisions are attributable to Brown’s “cerebral style of play.”

“J’Covan had eight assists and he probably could’ve shot all of those if he wanted to,” Barnes said. “But he’s got a great feel for the game, and great vision.”

He registered the stats, but what won’t show up in the box score were Brown’s teaching moments. Not only did he lead by example on the floor, but he verbally coached his undeveloped teammates on how to cut to the basket, find the team’s open shooters and keep the offense moving.

“When I’m the junior guard, I can preach that stuff to the young guys and then they learn how to feed off of that,” Brown said.

By the time he left the game with 5:30 remaining, Texas had the game locked down. Brown went to the bench with a smile not even knowing the extent of his record night until the post-game press conference. Instead, he was more excited about how well his young teammates adapted to the game.

“I didn’t know,” Brown said in regards to tying his career high in points. “My teammates did a great job out there to find me.”

Brown is finally in the position many expected him to eventually assume. He is Texas’ most prolific scorer and he’ll likely need to continue that style of play to keep the Longhorns afloat until the young guns develop their already visible individual talent. Until then, Brown is happy playing the role of the all-rounder on a team that will have to do all the little things right to succeed this year.

“This year we are hyper. We will use our speed to get us over the hump,” Brown said of this squad’s identity.

“We have to keep fighting as a unit.”

At least for one night, Brown came out swinging.