Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Febres returns, bench shines in dominant win over Kansas State

Stephen Spillman - Williams_Rudi texas mbb ksu0503
Courtesy of Stephen Spillman

It’s been over 11 months since Jase Febres last played for Texas. The senior guard, who has been recovering from microfracture knee surgery last March, made his return to the court in the No. 4 Longhorns’ dominant 82-67 win over Kansas State Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center.

Texas was without three key rotation pieces in freshman forward Greg Brown, sophomore forward Kai Jones and redshirt sophomore forward Brock Cunningham, who were ruled out just prior to tip-off due to COVID-19 protocols according to Austin-American Statesman reporter Brian Davis. But the absences weren’t an issue for Texas as the team flashed its depth in the 15-point win.

“That's really the way a team is supposed to be,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “These guys all come in here as very highly touted and highly regarded individual players … but we asked them to come together around a common cause.”

Febres quieted any concerns about his athleticism in his return, recording two blocks to go along with six points in 22 minutes of action.

The Longhorns were dominant on the defensive side of the ball as well, holding Kansas State to 67 points on 43% shooting on the night. At one point in the first half, Kansas State went scoreless for seven minutes as the Longhorns kept rolling on offense, building a lead that would not be overcome.

“Holding them to 24 points was huge in the first half,” Smart said. “Just to set a tone for what we wanted to be about.”

Before the season, Smart set a goal of 32 deflections a game as a sign of active defense. Smart said the team hadn’t been reaching that standard in recent games, but they did a much better job of forcing turnovers Saturday, scoring 23 points off of 14 Kansas State turnovers.

Junior forward Kamaka Hepa saw his most significant action of the season with the absence of the trio of Texas forwards, finding himself in the starting lineup, and he made the most of it. After not seeing any time on the court in the past four games, Hepa scored a career high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

“It felt really great to be out there with my teammates playing basketball,” Hepa said after the game.

Hepa was planning to redshirt this season, but when the NCAA gave all athletes an extra year of eligibility, the junior forward was able to play.

Smart said Hepa is one of those guys that will be successful in whatever he decides to do after basketball because of his infectious energy and spirit.

“He’s great even in games where he doesn’t play,” Smart said. “You've seen him on the bench. He's the most engaged and excited guy there is.”

It’s unclear how long the trio of Longhorns will be out, but one thing that is clear is that Hepa will be ready to play whenever his name is called.

“I'm just going to continue to chip away, continue to improve where I can and help my teammates improve where they can,” Hepa said. “And then hopefully we can put it together at the end of the season.”

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About the Contributor
Matthew Boncosky, Sports Editor
Matthew is a senior studying journalism and previously covered football, men’s basketball, volleyball and swimming and diving. He is the "undisputed" ping pong champion of the basement.
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Febres returns, bench shines in dominant win over Kansas State