Longhorns overcome poor half, take down ‘Pokes

Austin Laymance

It wasn't pretty, but Texas held off Oklahoma State, 58-49, Saturday in the Longhorns' Big 12 home opener.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, including a five-minute drought without a field goal from either squad. The Longhorns and Cowboys entered the break tied, 21-21, after shooting a combined 15 of 56 (27 percent).

But Texas (11-4; 1-1 Big 12) regrouped in the second half and pulled away late on the strength of a J'Covan Brown 3 that awakened the crowd and the home team. Brown, who injured his ankle Wednesday at Iowa State, scored six in 25 minutes. Brown's trey put Texas ahead, 40-37, and sparked a 21-12 run down the stretch.

"He hit a big-time shot and it changed the momentum of the game," said point guard Myck Kabongo, who assisted on Brown's 3.

Kabongo shouldered most of the offensive load with Brown operating at less than 100 percent, and the freshman scored 15 points to go along with six assists. Kabongo did most of his damage from the charity stripe and made 8 of 11 free throws.

Brown said he was close to sitting out and resting the ankle.

"It got sore as the game went on," the junior said. "I told coach in the second half to start Julien (Lewis), because I did not really hit my shots and my teammates need to know I have faith in them."

Texas was 11 of 27 in the second half (40.7 percent) and held a 39-35 rebounding advantage. It wasn't an ideal way to begin conference play at home, but the Longhorns aren't looking for style points.

"Early, we missed some shots and we probably got a little overly aggressive trying to drive the ball too deep," said coach Rick Barnes. "I think it's a great lesson for our guys in that you have nights like this where you just can't make a shot."