Texas drops a close one to Big 12 top dog Kansas

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Sheldon McClellan had 11 points in Texas' loss to Kansas. The Longhorns were down by as much as 15 and almost pulled out a victory, but lost in the final seconds.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns gave the Kansas Jayhawks all they could handle, but UT fell just short in a bid to upset the Big 12's top team.

The Longhorns rallied for another furious second half comeback, their second in as many games, but J'Covan Brown's desperation 3-point attempt in the closing seconds missed and UT lost, 69-66, to No. 7 Kansas on Saturday afternoon at the Erwin Center.

Brown sparked UT's late charge and nearly engineered a thrilling upset, giving Texas a four-point lead, 64-60, with 3:21 to play. The junior guard scored the final seven points but was the Longhorns' lone source of offense down the stretch as UT (12-7, 2-4 Big 12) fell to 0-5 in games decided by six points or less.

"It starts with me," said Brown, who was 7 of 26 and scored a game-high 24. "I've got to finish games strong. That's really what it is. I've got to be aggressive and find my teammates. In the clutch moment, I've got to come through."

While Brown was quick to shoulder the blame, Texas coach Rick Barnes offered a different explanation for his team's struggles late in games.

"We have to make it easier for each other, guys have to be in their spots and be ready because (defenses) are going to play off (Brown)," Barnes said.

Freshman swingman Sheldon McClellan agreed that Brown needs help when the game is on the line.

"We all need to step up," McClellan said. "We need to take some pressure off of him."

The Jayhawks, though, displayed the poise and execution in the final minutes that Barnes' young squad is still searching for. KU regained the lead, 67-66, on a Jeff Withey layup and then sealed the victory with a pair of free throws. Kansas tightened defensively in the ultimate possessions and didn't give the Longhorns second chances.

"We made all the plays down the stretch," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I thought Texas was more active than us but we got the key rebounds late."

Tyshawn Taylor led KU with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. Forward Thomas Robinson added 17 points and nine rebounds.

The Jayhawks (16-3, 6-0) established themselves early with a 15-0 run in the first half, turning a 7-7 tie into a sizeable advantage. Texas missed 10 shots in a row during that span. But the Longhorns responded with a 16-6 run, with the help of three 3-pointers from Sheldon McClellan, closing the gap to 28-25. But Texas couldn't keep the pressure on and KU ended on a 11-2 run for a 39-27 lead at the break.

Robinson, the only player in the conference averaging a double-double, had a clear advantage inside but Texas limited him to one rebound in the first half. Kansas had the advantage in the frontcourt, but UT outrebounded KU, 42-35.

"In the second half my whole mindset was I need every rebound," said Robinson, who played with a heavy heart on the first anniversary of the death of his mother.

Texas lost their third straight game and had to overcome a sluggish start for the second time this week. The Longhorns didn't begin strong against Kansas State on Wednesday night, and it was more of the same on Saturday.