There have been moments this season when the Longhorns’ best shooters failed to perform. For junior guard Jase Febres those moments have come far more often than he would prefer.
Expected to be one of the sharpshooters on the team, Febres struggled with his shot heading into the rivalry game against Texas A&M, shooting no better than 27% from the three-point line in the preceding games against McNeese State and UAB. He failed to tally more than ten points in either matchup.
“It’s my job to come in and knock down threes and be a spark from the three-point line,” Febres said. “I haven’t been doing that as much as I could in these early games. Last game and this game, I’ve just been making sure I’m taking my time. I know I’m a good shooter, and I have to continue to have the confidence in myself.”
Head coach Shaka Smart also has faith in his upperclassman leader. Smart had seen Febres in practice, and knew that shots would begin falling if he kept shooting.
“As it relates to shooters, I am a player’s coach,” Smart said following the win over UAB. “Guys like Jase have shown they can make shots and put time in and work and make shots in practice. Eventually that comes around when you’re that good of a shooter, and he’s that good of a shooter.”
The faith that Smart has in Febres started to pay off against Texas A&M. Against the Aggies, Febres was the team’s leading scorer with 17 points, and played nearly the entire game, only sitting for four total minutes. He drained four three-point shots on eleven tries.
In the first half against the Chippewas of Central Michigan, Febres dominated, draining four three-point shots on only five attempts for a percentage of 80%. He led the team in scoring along with fellow junior guard Matt Coleman. In a frustrating first half of basketball for the team, Febres did his part to keep the Longhorns afloat.
Febres continued his hot shooting in the second half, scoring another 11 points to cement his status as the game’s high scorer. In a game where both redshirt sophomore guard Andrew Jones and Coleman were in constant foul trouble, Febres stepped up and delivered when the team desperately needed him to.
“Having a shooter like Jase is such a great thing to have,” sophomore guard Courtney Ramey said. “We have multiple shooters that can go off each and every night. A couple nights ago it was Andrew, tonight it was Jase, so that’s the good thing about our team that teams can’t really discount one great shooter.”
Febres played every minute except for the final minute and a half of the game, fouling out once the game was firmly in hand. He left the court to a standing ovation from Texas fans after draining seven threes on ten shots during the deceptively close contest.
“This is what Jase is capable of,” Smart said. “He didn’t do anything outside of himself. He just shot the ball right away and shot it in and made seven threes, which is very very doable for him if we can create good looks for him.
The display of stamina in a game that the Longhorns seemingly had to win to avoid a bad loss on their tournament resume affirmed Febres’ status as a team leader. Moving forward, his leadership and shooting prowess will be what Texas hangs its hat on.