The light seems to have finally come on for the Texas Longhorns.Â Although they allowed the Aggies to shoot 50% from the field and 50% from behind the arc, they were still able to leave Reed Arena with a win.Â The last scheduled matchup on the basketball court between the Aggies and the Longhorns was every bit as exciting as the last scheduled football game was last November.Â Both teams played showed heart, toughness and remarkable shot making ability, but it was the smarter, more mature plays made by the Longhorns that ultimately decided the game.Â Time after time, Texas tried to pull away, but time after time the Aggies rallied.Â But instead of taking bad, contested 3s they have been taking all season long, the Longhorns drove to the basket and got easy points.Â Instead of standing around and watching J’Covan Brown do it by himself, the rest of the team moved around, got open and made plays late in the game.Â Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan didn’t camp outside the 3 point line.Â They were aggressive going to the basket.Â Rick Barnes didn’t have his best 4 man on the bench late in the game.Â Instead, he had Jonathan Holmes on the floor.Â Holmes rewarded him by scoring 6 straight points for the Longhorns when Texas A&M was threatening to take control of the game.
Down by 1 withÂ 1:03 to play, the Texas Longhorns did something they had failed to do all season long.Â They set up and executed a play to get a game winning basket.Â In losses to NC State, Â Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor Texas had the ball with a chance to win or tie at the end of regulation, but could not get into a set.Â And each game ended with a loss.Â Last night’s win showed how much the Longhorns have grown.Â I’m not talking about just the Freshmen, I’m talking about all of them.Â 2 of Texas’ veteranÂ players madeÂ big playsÂ at the end of the game.Â Big plays they were not making a month ago.Â J’Covan Brown caught the ball wide openÂ behind the 3 point line at the top of the key, and instead of launching a 3 with defenders running at him, he put the ball on the floor and got to the basket.Â A move that proved to be beneficial for the Longhorns.Â The ensuing possession saw Lexi Wangmene play the best defense he has played all season.Â Texas A&M got the ball inside to their All Conference PF David Lobeau, and Wangmene stopped him.Â He moved his feet, stayed solid and forced Lobeau to turn the ball over – something he has been struggling with all season long.Â Sitting at 5-6 right now, the Longhorns control their own destiny.Â If they win the games they’re supposed to win and steal 1 from either Kansas or Baylor, they’re as good as in.Â To do so, they will need to continue their sweet shooting from last night and play the kind of defense they have played all season long.Â The kind of defense that kept them in games when they were shooting 30% from the field and 60% from the free throw line.
What Lies Ahead for Texas:
A rematch with Kansas State.Â A win against the Wildcats will put the Longhorns at 6-6 in conference, and depending on how things go between KSU and Tech tonight, it will either put Texas in a tie for 5th or in 5th place by themselves.
Keys to Success for Texas:
– Make shots: The Longhorns shot 55% from behind the arc,Â 48% from the field andÂ Â converted on 74% of their free throw attempts against the Aggies.Â That sweet shooting resulted in a win.Â They will need to continue to make shots in order to give themselves a shot to beat KSU on Saturday.
– Use Jonathan Holmes better: Jonathan Holmes is a weaponÂ Texas isn’t using properly.Â Holmes shows flashes whenever he touches the ball, but the problem for Holmes is that he cannot stay on the floor.Â He is always in foul trouble because he has to guard biggerÂ 4.Â For Holmes to stay in the floor, he must get involved in the offense.Â His quickness and ability to put the ball on the floor will force 4s to foul him.Â His jumpshot will also keep the lane open for Chapman to operate when he’s in the game.
– Keep believing: They are on the outside looking in on everybody’s list right now, but they have the chance to play their win in the tournament.Â They just need to stick together, keep playing hard and they’ll be ok.
– J’Covan Brown scored 20 points on 6-9 shooting, including an impressiveÂ 4-4 from behind the arc
– Sheldon McClellanÂ finished with 15 points, scoringÂ in double figures for the second straight game
– Jaylen Bond led the Longhorns with 8 rebounds off the bench
– Alexis Wangmene scored 10 points, providing some much needed inside scoring for Texas
– Myck Kabongo ran the show well, finishing with 6 points, 6 rebounds andÂ 5 assists