Comeback shows grit of young team

Will Anderson

Let me take a minute to talk to you about a few seconds.

As the final moments ticked off the clock in the first half, Texas looked down and nearly out, with the Jayhawks nursing a 12-point lead. After shooting just 30 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, the Longhorns were in the unenviable position of facing a double-digit deficit against the nation’s second-ranked team at home.

Heads down, shoulders drooping, hands on their hips — you wouldn’t want to bet on Texas as the team walked off the court and into the locker room.

The start to the second half wasn’t much better, with two turnovers and two fouls in the first 1:15.

But they climbed back into contention with impeccable team defense and some physical rebounding. J’Covan Brown hit a pair of three-pointers 55 seconds apart to give Texas its first lead and 100 seconds later laid in a gorgeous basket in traffic, which opened the floodgates.

Guard Cory Joseph hit his first trey at the 7:38 mark of the second half. He nailed a pull-up jumper less than 60 seconds later after a crossover that was nothing short of ankle-breaking. He even hit another three-pointer when, after streaking through traffic to grab an offensive rebound, he noticed the dwindling shot clock while dribbling about 23 feet from the basket. He was relatively unguarded and put up a quick-draw shot that beat the 25-second timer and thoroughly silenced the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as Texas moved up by 11 — the largest hole Kansas has been in all season — and primed the team for easily its biggest win of the year.

Another buzzer-beater came with just more than a minute left to play. Jordan Hamilton, stalling for time near the top of the key, drove to the right side of the lane, but just before reaching the basket, he kicked it out to Gary Johnson who deftly put in a jumper. It was just Johnson’s second field goal of the contest, but that was the type of afternoon Texas had: unpredictable but ultimately clutch.

Overall, Texas used a 24-7 run in the second half to regain control of the game and held Kansas scoreless from the field for nearly five minutes during a crucial part of that run.

For Brown to score a game-high 23 points coming off the bench was surprising, but the real shocker was Texas coming back at all against a team that some consider the best in the nation. Texas was remarkable in the second half, and its play is a testament to the type of team head coach Rick Barnes is building. Now with sole possession of first place in the Big 12, it’s the Longhorns’ race to lose.