Texas won the last scheduled game against rival Texas A&M, 70-68, at one of the Big 12’s loudest venues, Reed Arena, on Monday night. The Longhorns hadn’t won a game away from Austin since beating UCLA, 69-59, in California on Dec. 3. It was the Longhorns’ best conference win and their second victory in a row.
“It brings us together more because we haven’t won a road game since UCLA,” said freshman guard Sheldon McClellan. “It feels good to get a road game.”
UT also ended a seven-game losing streak in games decided by six points or less. The Longhorns had a string of heartbreaking losses in the final seconds to Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor over the last three weeks, but they reversed their fortunes against the Aggies.
J’Covan Brown delivered timely baskets down the stretch for the Longhorns and made a game-winning layup with 53 seconds to play that made it 68-67.
The Longhorns were in a similar situation in the final minutes against Mizzou last Monday. UT failed to get a stop against the Tigers and lost. But this time, freshman point guard Myck Kabongo stole an errant pass and found Brown down the court.
“It was a big play for everybody,” Brown said. “We knew they were going to run an isolation play. We did a great job with help from defense. Myck came up with a big steal. That’s what you have to do to close out big games.”
Brown was immediately fouled and made two free throws with 17 seconds left to seal the win. The junior carried the Longhorns offensively in the second half, but it was Kabongo who came up with the play of the game. The freshman finished with six points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Texas improved to 5-6 in the Big 12 and is slowly crawling out of the conference’s cellar. McClellan scored 15 points in his second straight start. Jonathan Holmes provided nine second-half points and Jaylen Bond grabbed eight rebounds. With the Longhorns’ freshmen playing better of late, things are looking better for UT.
“It feels great to get out of that slump,” Brown said. “These young guys want to win and get to the tournament and make a name for themselves.”
Three weeks ago, the Longhorns wouldn’t have been able to weather a late Aggies rally. They didn’t do it against K-State, KU, Baylor or Mizzou. But Texas has grown as a team in recent weeks and it showed on Monday.
“We were just staying together as a team,” McClellan said. “Earlier in the year we were starting to do things on our own. Now, we’re just focused in. We listen to our coaches more.“
Ultimately, though, the game came down to defense, and the Longhorns finally got the stops they needed to win a close game.
“We’ve had situations when we had a lead and couldn’t get a stop,” Barnes said. “Tonight we got a lead, went down on the other end and got a stop. That was the difference for us in the end.”
The Longhorns will need to win another close game like this — and maybe one on the road — at some point this season if they want to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th straight year. But they finally showed it can be done.
Printed on, February 7, 2012 as:Texas picks up rare road win in College Station