Longhorns showing signs of improvement, face UTA tonight

Trey Scott

While most students study and sleep their “dead days” away, the Longhorns will play host to UT-Arlington.

Texas (5-2) has won three straight games since a 0-for-2 showing in New Jersey and is looking to build off some of the momentum earned after a 69-59 win Saturday at UCLA, one that head coach Rick Barnes called the “best team effort we’ve had all year.”

“Guys were moving around, we ended up out-rebounding them and, as the game wore on, we got better defensively,” Barnes said.

Because the Longhorns didn’t return anybody from last year’s starting five — this year’s top scorer, J’Covan Brown, was the sixth man in 2010-11 — this season has presented its fair share of challenges and growing pains. With just one player on the roster taller than 6-foot-7, the team faces a size deficit in the post nearly each game. Despite that though, the Longhorns have out-rebounded their opponent four of seven times this year.

“I think our posts guys have worked pretty hard this year, and I think our guards are battling, too,” Barnes said.

Forward Alexis Wangmene agrees. “Everybody is making an effort to go get the rebound,” he said.

Texas is also trying to groom in a new point guard, Myck Kabongo, who was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week for his efforts in the Longhorns’ last two wins, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 assists per game.

Kabongo — a five-star recruit — struggled through a few of the earlier games (four turnovers against Rhode Island, five against Oregon State, three against North Carolina State) but is starting to see the floor better.

“When he slows down, I don’t think there’s any question he sees things, but when he gets in a hurry, he doesn’t,” Barnes said. “When he plays at the pace he should play at, I think he picks up things. If he continues to work at it, he should be excited to see how much of a better player he can become.”

Printed on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 as: Horns looking to extend win streak to four