Brown takes a backseat as Longhorns get contributions from other players

Trey Scott

With J’Covan Brown’s continuing offensive struggles, it looks like the Longhorns will have to learn to rely on other scoring threats.

Tuesday’s 73-57 win over North Texas at the Frank Erwin Center was good progress.

“We’re trying to be a balanced team,” said head coach Rick Barnes. “I think it’s really impressive that J’Covan didn’t force anything. He found a way to get his teammates involved.”

Freshman point guard Myck Kabongo starred, scoring 16 points. Two other players scored in double-digits as well — Jonathan Holmes had 12, and Julien Lewis had 11.

“One of the biggest things we stress is when you’re open, you have to shoot it,” Kabongo said. “It’s something they practice. Julien’s a great shooter.”

Kabongo wasn’t sure if Lewis has the quickest release on the team — he said he doesn’t watch film on his teammates’ shooting strokes — but Lewis has proven to be a nice catch-and-shoot player.

“He can score the ball, and he wants to be a good player,” Barnes said of Lewis, who reached double figures in scoring for the fourth time this season.

The 6-foot-7 Holmes has proven to be a versatile option as well, hitting one three-pointer — his sixth of the year — as well as a flurry of mid-range jump shots.

“We definitely know more about the offense in terms of our spacing,” Holmes said. “We are seeing more opportunities to score than before.”

That will have to continue for Texas to win games without Brown dropping his usual 20 points. The junior led the Longhorns in scoring the first four games of the year but has since then put up totals of 11 and six points in the last two games. To Brown’s credit, he played smart basketball upon realizing his shot wasn’t falling, finding ways to keep the offense flowing.

“He’s picking his shots,” Holmes said. “I don’t really think it’s that he’s not shooting as well. It’s a long season, and he’s being smart.”

Brown was harassed all night by North Texas defensive specialist Alzee Williams, who says Brown “stayed calm” despite shooting just 3-of-10 from the field.

“I did the best I could,” Williams said. “We knew he was a big-time player, so I followed him everywhere he went. My teammates were hyping me up before the game, trying to get me to lock [Brown] up.”

The Longhorns will have to get used to special attention being paid to Brown. After the departures of Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson — who led the team in scoring last season — Brown stands as the team’s best scorer, by far.

“When J’Covan is scoring a lot, they’re tough to beat,” said North Texas head coach Johnny Jones. “We tried to make sure other guys made shots for Texas. And they played well.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 as: Despite struggles from leader Longhorns prevail