Covan Brown

Sophomore Myck Kabongo answers questions from the media after announcing his decision to forego his two remaining years of eligibity to participate in the NBA Draft this year. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

With the news that Myck Kabongo has elected to enter the NBA draft, Texas’ roster continues to shrink. The Longhorns, who now only have two rising juniors, have lost three players off of a team that had no upperclassmen. 

Texas suffered this past season without the kind of leadership, direction and experience that comes with having upperclassmen on the roster. It was primed to have a significantly more experienced team next season with seven juniors, five sophomores and an incoming class of three freshman guards. With a more seasoned roster and a wide open Big 12 lacking in dominating talent, Texas was sure to improve on its poor 16-18 record this season.

Now head coach Rick Barnes has to adjust once again. Without Kabongo operating as the primary ball-handler earlier this season, the Texas offense was stagnant with little movement and was ultimately ineffective. When Kabongo returned to the lineup, Texas played some of its best games of the season. Wins over Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor all came in the final 11 games that Kabongo was a part of.

Now Texas is without three potential upperclassmen, leaving just Julien Lewis and Jonathan Holmes on the roster. Having only two upperclassman is better than having none, but there is a larger issue at hand: why can’t Barnes and Texas keep players on campus for four years?

Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson both declared for the NBA draft after their freshman seasons. They would have been juniors for the Longhorns this past season. Thompson made the right decision as he was the fourth pick in the NBA draft and is playing 30 minutes a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers while averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game. Joseph, meanwhile, has only appeared in 25 games this season and is averaging 13 minutes per game for the San Antonio Spurs.

The class of 2009, which would have been seniors this season, featured Avery Bradley, J’Covan Brown, Jordan Hamilton and Shawn Williams. Bradley declared for the NBA after one season and Hamilton after two. Williams transferred to SMU after one season. Brown stuck around and was a major player for Texas for three seasons before deciding to play professionally. He is now playing in Greece.

Departures from Texas are nothing new; Kabongo’s entrance into the NBA is just the most recent one. Texas has been relying on a flawed system. It is the same system that saw Kentucky go from national champ to being eliminated in the first round of the NIT. To his credit, Barnes is trying to break away from it. With Kabongo gone, there is really no one on the roster who is expected to jump to the NBA. But the transfers are still an issue too. 

Barnes has shown that he can get talented players to Texas. Now he just has to keep them here.

J'Covan Brown injured, will miss summer league

This can't be the professional beginning J'Covan Brown was hoping for.

The former Longhorn went undrafted in June, and will now miss an entire summer's worth of basketball because of a strained right Achilles, the Beaumont Enterprise reported Friday.

Brown had signed with the Miami Heat, and was prepared to play with them in summer leagues. The injury occurred sometime during practices. Even if he were to return in the fall -- the timetable the BE reported -- there's little chance an injured Brown would still be on the Heat by then.

This past season, Brown scored 34 against Missouri despite a nagging ankle sprain, which he said afterwards had him playing at "70 percent."  

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Baseball will take hold of the sports world soon enough, as we enter the dog days of summer, which means one thing: It’s time to look ahead to the next college basketball season.

The Texas roster has started to take form as the signing period and transfers come to a close. This offseason, the Longhorns saw backup point guard Sterling Gibbs take his talents to the East Coast, deciding to transfer to Seton Hall University. Texas will also lose the services of the enigmatic J’Covan Brown, leaving the task of competing in the Big 12 to a group of freshmen and sophomores. All the while, Texas basketball released its non-conference schedule last Wednesday.

Among the Coppin State and Texas State matchups slated to occur early in the 2012 season, the Longhorns will face at least three top 25 non-conference opponents in UCLA on Dec. 8, North Carolina on Dec. 19, and Michigan State on Dec 25. In fact, they play four out of five games in a row in December versus top tier opponents depending on how Georgetown’s roster shapes up by the time of their Dec. 4 meeting.

These potentially large matchups might worry the Longhorn faithful knowing the trouble that ranked opponents gave the team last season. Texas was 1-9 vs. ranked opponents, with five of those games being decided by five points or fewer.

That’s where the new guys of the 4th ranked recruiting class in the nation come in. Texas ranked 2nd to last in defensive rebounding last year in the Big 12 at 22.79 rpg and near the middle of the pack in scoring defense, giving up 66.8 ppg because they couldn’t defend the paint efficiently. Knowing that, Rick Barnes grabbed the No. 8 ranked recruit in the country in 6-foot-10 center Cameron Ridley.

“Cameron is a true post who sees himself as an interior player,” Head Coach Rick Barnes said.

Texas also added highly touted forwards Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert, who both check in at 6-foot-10 as well. 6-foot-8 swingman Ioannis Papapetrou also joins the Longhorns, giving the team much needed length on the perimeter.

Texas also had some sloppy play last season, averaging 12.5 turnovers to 12.3 assists per game. Barnes countered that by bringing in better ball-handlers in guards Javan Felix and Demarcus Holland.

“Demarcus brings versatility to our backcourt and improves our skill level and ball-handling,” said Barnes. “When we look at our roster, we see skill, character and work ethic, and we’re excited to have them get on the floor together this summer and get to work.”

The Longhorns will need these new players to fit in right away if they hope to take the next step from their last two NCAA tournament bids, which ended in a second and first round exit respectively. One more component that they will need is second-year swingman Sheldon McClellan to score more consistently to replace the Big 12’s top scorer J’Covan Brown, who entered the NBA draft.

Ridley could alleviate some of that pressure with his ability to score in the post, and the size added by Ibeh and Lammert could pose problems for smaller teams in the conference. With a roster mostly composed of freshmen and sophomores, more growing pains are ahead, but the future looks bright.

Redshirt junior guard J’Covan Brown (14) tries to get past a Cincinnati defender in the Longhorns’ 65-59 loss to the Bearcats in the first round of the NCAA tournament this past weekend. According to a source close to Brown he will opt to enter the NBA Draft this year.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's Note: This story has been updated at 2:32 a.m. in response to J'Covan Brown's tweets.

J’Covan Brown’s spin move caught the attention of NBA scouts and Big 12 defenders alike this year.

The leading scorer in the Big 12, Brown has a series of moves he can go with to score. But his spin is the most dangerous, especially in the lane, where he uses it to avoid potential shot blockers.

“I’m very crafty when I spin,” Brown says. “Crazy things happen.”

His life is about to get a whole lot crazier.

Brown will enter the NBA Draft in June, according to a source close to the situation.

While Brown has not commented publically about his decision, and even denied claims he’s headed for the NBA via Twitter, the source confirmed he is indeed opting to leave for the NBA.

Last year both Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton denied that they were headed to the NBA as well, only to be drafted fourth and 26th overall, respectively.

The junior was asked about his future with the Longhorns after Texas was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament Friday.

“I’ll make the decision, talk to coach (Rick Barnes), talk to my parents and see what the best thing is for me,” Brown said.

He averaged 20.1 points per game this season to lead UT. Brown has a daughter, Jordyn, who will turn two in July.

Brown also told reporters, “At the end of the day I have a family to take care of.”

According to, Brown is the No. 9 junior prospect (No. 69 overall) and is projected to be a second round pick in June.

The NBA is the next logical step for the 6-foot-1 shooting guard. Brown, 22, scored more than 30 points in four games this season and scored in double-figures 32 times in 34 games. There is not much left for him to prove at the college level.

Brown totaled 683 points this season and was named first-team All-Big 12. He combined for 693 during his first two years at Texas.

“People don’t really understand how hard it is to score 20 points night in and night out,” said head coach Rick Barnes. “Every team that we played this year, he was the focus of their game plan. He goes out every game with a big bull’s eye on his back. He’s a terrific offensive player and he’s been pretty darn consistent all year.”

Brown’s game extends past his dazzling spin moves, though. He’s a pure shooter.

The Port Arthur native made 86.3 percent of his free throws (157 of 182) and shot 37 percent (80 of 217) from beyond the arc this year. Combine those numbers with 41.7 percent shooting from the field (223 of 535) and it’s easy to see why Brown causes headaches for opponents.

“You can’t guard him one-on-one,” says Cincinnati leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick, who saw Brown’s spin move in the NCAA Tournament this year. “You’ve got to have help from the rest of your teammates. He’s a great scorer.”

Brown was the Longhorns’ only consistent option on the offensive end and carried an inexperienced team this season. He was named U.S. Basketball Writers Association District VII Player of the Year, a region that encompasses Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Texas needed more from Brown than just scoring this year, and he delivered. Brown was second on the team with 130 assists and 41 steals. He was also the best rebounding guard at 3.4 boards per game.

Big 12 defenders will be relieved next season with Brown out of the picture. As Missouri guard Kim English put it, “he’s deadly.”

Printed on Thursday, March 22, 2012 as: Junior guard opts to forego season, leaving youthful team behind

J'Covan Brown leaves the court after Texas was bounced from the NCAA Tournament with a 65-69 loss to Cincinnati on Friday. Brown scored 19 points to lead UT.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Longhorns struggled all season to win close games, and that’s why Texas will watch the rest of the NCAA Tournament from home.

The Longhorns’ season ended Friday with a 65-59 loss to Cincinnati at Bridgestone Arena in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was Texas’ (20-14) ninth loss by six points or fewer.

“We’re always going to be in close games and we have to find a way to finish,” said UT head coach Rick Barnes. “We had chances 10 or 14 times this year and we didn’t.”

The 14 defeats were the most in 14 years under Barnes. The previous high was 13 in 1998-98, his first season at Texas.

Part of UT’s inability to win tight games was its youth. The Longhorns’ rotation consisted of six freshmen out of nine scholarship players. Barnes and his rookies were rarely on the same page during the final minutes. There were defensive lapses, poor shots and miscommunication.

That was expected.

“We knew coming into this year that this would not be a one-year proposition with this team,” Barnes said. “We knew we had to try to establish a mentality. They’ve been resilient, maybe as resilient as any team we’ve had in a long time.”

The six Texas freshmen learned firsthand what it takes to win in the Big 12 and the Big Dance. That gives the Longhorns confidence heading into next season.

UT will still be young when they take the court again in November. Texas will have five freshmen, headlined by center Cameron Ridley from Fort Bend Bush in Richmond.

“I feel good with where we are as a program right now because I know what we’ve got coming back and I know what we have coming in,” Barnes said.

Texas knows it won’t have forwards Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene. The fifth-year seniors enjoyed career highs in points and rebounds.

But it’s unclear if leading scorer J’Covan Brown will return for his senior season. Brown averaged 20.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 34 starts.

The leading scorer in the Big 12, Brown showed the ability to play at the next level. The NBA is there for him should he choose to leave Texas. He has a daughter that will turn 2 in July.

“I’ll make the decision, talk to coach, talk to my parents and see what the best thing is for me,” said Brown, who scored in double-figures 32 times this year. “At the end of the day, I have a family to take care of.”

Freshman point guard Myck Kabongo will also have a decision to make regarding the NBA Draft in June.

In three of the last four NBA Drafts, three Longhorn point guards were selected in the first round: D.J. Augustin (2008), Avery Bradley (2010) and Cory Joseph (2011).

The Longhorns can build around swingmen Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan. Lewis started 25 games, the most for a freshmen other than Kabongo. McClellan averaged 11.3 points, second on the team.

“Those two guys are extremely talented but they’re just learning how to play,” Barnes said. “Sheldon’s athletic ability is off the charts. I think both of those guys have a great future.”

Printed on Monday, March 19, 2012 as: Youthful team was exposed in close games, hopes growing pains will translate to wins

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."


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.

Junior J’Covan Brown was a catalyst in Texas’ 74-63 win in Lawrence last season, but Kansas has not lost at home since. Texas will have a tough task if they want to knock off the Jayhawks at home, but if they can it will be a huge boost to they’re NCAA tournament resume.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns may have done enough to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma, but a victory at No. 3 Kansas on Saturday would all but assure the Longhorns of a 14th consecutive trip to the Big Dance.

Texas (19-11, 9-8 Big 12) guaranteed at least a .500 record in conference after beating OU 72-64, but the Longhorns would be wise to add to their tournament resume. UT’s best win came against No. 23 Temple on Dec. 17, so it’s been a while since Texas had a signature win.

An upset of the conference champion Jayhawks on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse would be exactly that. Texas sits firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble, but that hasn’t discouraged the Longhorns.

“There’s no pressure,” said point guard Myck Kabongo. “We just have to go out there and ball and do what we do best.”

The last time Texas made a trip to KU on Jan. 22, 2011, the Longhorns beat the Jayhawks 74-63 to end Kansas’ school record 69-game win streak at home. KU hasn’t lost a game at Allen Fieldhouse since then and are 15-0 at home this season.

J’Covan Brown scored 23 points in 29 minutes of the bench in that game to lead Texas. The Longhorns are a completely different team this year, however, with Brown and senior forwards Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene being the only holdovers.

Still, Brown is confident the six Texas freshmen will be able to handle one of college basketball’s most raucous crowds.

“We’re going to walk in there together, we’re going to have swag and we’re going to fight and show the world that we can be right there,” said Brown, who leads the Big 12 in scoring.

But the Longhorns will need more than swag to knock off the best the Big 12 has to offer.

It’s the final regular season game for each team and KU will celebrate senior night. The Jayhawks have won 28 straight home finales and will honor Tyshawn Taylor, Conner Teahan and Jordan Juenemann.

Taylor carried KU (25-5, 15-2) down the stretch when the Jayhawks beat Texas 69-66 on Jan. 21 in Austin. He’s one of the top point guards in the country and will challenge Kabongo defensively.

March signals crunch time for a handful of teams on the tournament bubble every year. If the Longhorns want to make it to their 14th straight NCAA tourney, a win on Saturday should get them in.

“If we’re good enough, we’ll be where we need to be,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes. “March is a great time. This is when you’ve got to want to play. This is the best time of year if you’re a college basketball player.”

Freshman forward Jaylen Bond (2) tips the ball back toward the hoop during the Longhorns’ 72-64 win over Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Freshman Sheldon McClellan netted 24 points and junior J’Covan Brown added 22 points and six assists to help Texas outlast the Sooners on senior night in the Frank Erwin Center.

Texas’ seniors played a minimal role in the victory on a night meant to commemorate their achievements, but the junior and freshman had no problem playing heroes. Down most of the game, the two navigated Texas’ pair of comebacks in both halves to help the Longhorns pull out a victory it absolutely needed heading into their final regular season game against Kansas. But it wasn’t pretty.

Texas started off the game with as lethargic a performance as it had turned in all year. The Longhorns weren’t forced into, but rather settled for five 3 pointers in the first five minutes of the game.

Sheldon McClellan, Myck Kabongo, J’Covan Brown, Jonathan Holmes and Sterling Gibbs all missed their attempts.

“I said to [Texas players], ‘you guys have got to be kidding me,’” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said to his team. He told his players they couldn’t shoot another triple until they could move the ball inside and throughout its offense.

Texas finally hit its first 3 pointer on its sixth attempt when Sterling Gibbs knocked one down from a no-look assist courtesy of Kabongo cutting into the lead 7-14. Brown hit a fade-away jumper the next trip down the court, and just when the Longhorns seemed poised to pick up the pace, they made things harder on themselves.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma jumped out to a 23-11 lead by forcing Texas into six early turnovers and then capitalizing in transition. Romero Osby paced the Sooners with 11 of his 14 points in the first 10 minutes, and was able to have his way inside the paint.

The Longhorns ended a three-minute scoring drought with a Brown assist to Wangmene and then the next trip down the floor, Brown dished the ball underneath the basket to McClellan who converted an easy dunk. Texas continued to etch into the lead with Brown and McClellan leading the charge.

Down 27-21, Brown grabbed a defensive rebound and heaved a 70 foot pass to McClellan in the open-court, and McClellan converted the easy layup with a little over six minutes to go. Two minutes later McClellan’s stole the ball from a defender, punched the accelerator as he drove to the rim and threw down an emphatic one-handed dunk to cut the Sooner lead to four.

Texas went into halftime with a manageable 33-37 deficit, but the Longhorns that emerged from the tunnel looked just as mistake prone as the team that started the game. For the first few minutes of the half, Texas took one step forward, only to two steps backward.

“We called a time-out after four minutes [in the second half] and told them, ‘You know what? You’ve got 16 minutes that might be what define your whole year right here, right now, and if we don’t defend, I can tell the result,’” Barnes said.

The Longhorns ramped up their defense to calm Oklahoma’s scorching first-half offense, but couldn’t covert on the offensive side. They missed give-me layups and open 3s. But for all their miscues on offense, the Longhorns were still able to win the battle on the boards and force OU to take just enough bad shots to crawl back into the contest. And with eight minutes left, the predictable affair became an exciting back-and-forth, with McClellan and Brown again towing their team along.

With eight minutes remaining, McClellan knocked in a wide-open 3 pointer from the corner.

“They were setting screens with their big guys on the base line, and we gave Brown extra attention at the top at time,” said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. “McClellan stepped up and made big baskets at critical times.”

Brown came back down the floor, made a stutter-step dribble that threw the Oklahoma defender guarding him off balance. Brown calmly stepped back and drilled his 3, his first of the night.

“I just knew I had to come through. I was missing shots early, but wasn’t getting frustrated at all. Coach Barnes told me to keep shooting, and it was going to go in. I kept shooting it and kept getting aggressive.

The rest of the Longhorns woke up and contributed in other ways. Even though he only had a single point, Kabongo registered a game-changing, steal-turned-assist to McClellan and the Longhorns’ team defense didn’t allow an OU field goal for the last four and half minutes. Kabongo also had nine assists.

The win puts Texas on much higher ground heading into their final regular season contest against Kansas, and a win there would give Texas the padding it needs to secure an easy tournament spot, even if it will likely be lower seed.

Printed on Thursday, March 1, 2012 as: Horns hang on to defeat Sooners

J’Covan Brown plays stingy defense in a 74-54 victory last March. This year the win was not nearly as easy but Brown and the rest of the Longhorns prevailed this year 69-58 thanks to a second half comeback and 15 key second half points from him.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns are a better team in the second half.

Texas rallied to beat Oklahoma, 69-58, on Tuesday night in Norman, Okla. to extend its winning streak to four games. UT (17-9) overcame a five-point halftime deficit to win only its third away game of the season and its second in a row.

The Longhorns have outscored their opponent in the second half in eight straight games and trailed going into the break in each of their last three wins. UT has won the second half 22 times in 26 tries this season.

Oklahoma led, 33-25, with 36 seconds left in the first half before Texas went on a 10-0 run that carried into the second. UT scored the first seven points after the break to take a 35-33 lead. OU battled back but J’Covan Brown put the Longhorns ahead for good with a 3-pointer that made it 38-37 with 14:35 to play.

Brown scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half to pace Texas. The junior added three rebounds, two assists and two steals. He made three consecutive 3-pointers in 2:25 to help turn a two-point hole into an eight-point advantage.

Freshman guard Sheldon McClellan scored in double figures for the fourth straight game and finished with 13 points off the bench. The Longhorns’ reserves outscored the Sooners’ bench, 23-8.

Myck Kabongo dished out seven assists to go along with 13 points. Five freshmen combined to score 43 of the team’s 69 points.

UT had 31 rebounds against 27 for OU. The Longhorns also had an 8-5 edge in steals and forced 13 Sooners turnovers.

Texas made all eight of its free throws in the final 1:26 to seal the victory. The Longhorns went 24 of 29 from the line. OU shot only eight free throws and made five.

UT had a huge advantage in free throws for the second time in as many games. The Longhorns made 27 free throws more than Kansas State during Saturday’s win and attempted 36 free throws more than KSU.

Steven Pledger led the Sooners with 18 points and five rebounds. Pledger did most of his damage inside and the Longhorns held him to two of eight shooting from beyond the arc. Cameron Clark and Romero Osby each contributed 13 points for OU.

Texas has also improved in the second half of the Big 12 schedule.

The Longhorns are 7-6 in the league after reaching the halfway mark with a 3-6 record. UT has a winning conference record for the first time since Jan. 11, when it beat Texas A&M to move to 2-1.

The Longhorns have five games remaining in the Big 12 and will return to the Sooner state on Saturday to face Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, the Sooners continued their free fall in the Big 12 standings and dropped to 3-10 in the league. OU fell to 13-12. Lon Kruger’s team has lost five games in a row and seven of its last eight.

Printed on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 as: Longhorns storm back to beat OU