Texas tries to bounce back from Georgetown loss against UCLA at Reliant Stadium

Christian Corona

He faced allegations that he received impermissible benefits to pay for out-of-state trips earlier this year. He came into this season with extremely high expectations but began the year on the bench while the NCAA investigated those allegations.

Sound familiar?

It does for UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad, who missed the Bruins’ first three games this year and paid back $1,600 for accepting payment for unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina while he was still in high school.

Texas sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo, on the other hand, is still being investigated by the NCAA, which is looking into whether an agent paid for a trip to Cleveland during the offseason. He has missed each of the Longhorns’ eight games this year and his void has been sorely noticeable.

The Longhorns committed 21 turnovers in a 64-41 loss to No. 15 Georgetown during Tuesday night’s Jimmy V Classic at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. They set Rick Barnes-era lows for points (41) and field goal percentage (29.2) in the loss. Kabongo’s replacement, freshman Javan Felix, scored four points on 1-for-9 shooting while committing five turnovers on his own.

“In a 40 minute game not everything is going to go well,” Barnes said. “I have to do a better job of helping them understand — they don’t understand what goes into losing. If you understand the will to win then you won’t make the same mistakes over and over again.”

Muhammad, who scored 15 points in his UCLA debut, a 78-70 loss to that same Georgetown team, was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2012, according to rivals.com. He is one of many talented players on the Bruins’ roster, but UCLA, like Texas, currently sits at 5-3.

The Bruins and Longhorns will square off on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. at Reliant Stadium in Houston as part of the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Showcase. UCLA’s and Texas’ women’s basketball squads face each other to kick off the event with a game that tips off at 1:30 p.m.

While the Longhorns have struggled offensively, averaging just 61.9 points per game and committing 19.1 turnovers per game, the eighth-most in the country, their defensive numbers are stellar. Texas is allowing only 56.8 points per game, the 25th-fewest in the nation, and is holding opponents to 32 percent shooting from the floor — the best mark by any Division I team.
Texas is a young team. Barnes has three freshmen in his starting lineup — Felix, Cameron Ridley and Demarcus Holland — with Jaylen Bond nursing a foot injury and Sheldon McClellan, the team’s leading scorer at 16.8 points per game, coming off the bench.

But the Longhorns, whose schedule is unforgiving this month, may have to grow up fast.