It was ugly, and at times, it was boring. But it was a win, and with the way the Longhorns’ previous two games had gone, they’ll take it.
Texas fell behind 16-4 to Sam Houston State (1-5) before climbing back and eventually pulling ahead for good, winning 56-40 Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center. With J’Covan Brown struggling to find his shot — the junior went 4-from-15 for the floor — the team was helped by big scoring contributions from Jonathan Holmes and Alexis Wangmene.
“I try to score when I get a chance to do so,” said Wangmene, who turned in 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. “That’s one of the things I worked on all summer long, I had to make sure I am able to finish around the rim.”
Wangmene, usually a defensive specialist, has played well recently, scoring a combined 17 points in Texas’ two losses in New Jersey. He was also a big reason why the Longhorns held an advantage on the glass, out-rebounding the Bearkats 43-37, with 18 offensive rebounds.
“One thing that [head coach] Rick Barnes has been emphasizing since the New Jersey tournament is to try and go get some more offensive rebounds and make sure we box out on the other end,” Wangmene said.
Holmes, a 6-foot-7 freshman from San Antonio, was a shade better than Wangmene, with 14 points and nine rebounds. He also swatted away three shots.
Those were the lone bright spots for the Longhorns (3-2), Barnes said. Texas shot 32 percent from the floor, which won’t be good enough in conference play this season. And though the Bearkats turned in an equally poor performance — shooting 32 percent as well — Barnes wasn’t very happy with his defense.
“I don’t think we were great,” he said. “[SHSU] didn’t shoot well, but they moved the ball around and got some things they wanted.”
Texas didn’t seem to have control of the game until Sheldon McClellan turned the momentum a bit with a big two-handed dunk in traffic with about four minutes to play. Wangmene provided a tip-in on the next series to move the lead to 45-35.
After the game, McClellan said the mood “just wasn’t there” and the team was either too trigger-happy or too shy.
“Coach got on us about our low-percentage shooting,” he said. “Some people took some bad shots, and he got on them. We passed up some shots we should have taken, and that resulted in taking bad shots. We have to know when to shoot and when not to shoot, know when to pass and when not to pass.”
Printed on Monday, November 28, 2011: Longhorns triumph despite slow start