“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