J’Covan Brown came through when Texas needed him most.
With 36.3 seconds left in the game and the teams tied at 65, Brown split two Cyclone defenders and hit a shot in the lane while getting fouled. The 3-point-play the old fashioned way gave Texas the go-ahead lead and the Longhorns were able to close out a 71-65 victory. Brown led all scorers with 23 points while Myck Kabongo chipped in with 11 points and five assists to help Texas earn a trip to the conference semifinals.
Texas had to crawl from behind in this one. The offense couldn’t get in a rhythm in the first half, and it came out of the gates slow in the second. The team got down by as much as 11 early into the second period, and Barnes was frustrated with the offensive flow.
“I did get upset because we started the half by taking a quick shot, and then we threw it out of bounds. It was our offense,” Barnes said.
But once Texas was able to click on offense in the middle of the second half, there was no stopping it. The Longhorns went on a 22-4 run that surprisingly featured a cast of Texas scorers. Kabongo and Julien Lewis combined for 11 points during that stretch.
Iowa State’s Royce White helped make things especially tough for Texas in the early going. He ended up with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and was named the top newcomer in the conference. But all of that did nothing to ease the pain of the loss.
“It means nothing. My performance was not good enough,” White said. “It just wasn’t good enough.”
The loss was especially difficult for the Cyclones, as they had a sizable crowd backing them. The Longhorns are without a huge road following in Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament, but Brown said that actually played to his favor.
“Tournament time is always a great time,” Brown said. “The crowd, I think we only had a couple fans, and they had a great amount of fans. We love that, to walk into a gym and quiet their fans. We just tried to give it our all for 40 minutes.”
The win earns Texas a date with the fifth-best team in the country, Missouri. The Tigers just beat Oklahoma State 88-70, and are the easy favorites to beat the Longhorns. Regardless of the outcome today, there is one thing that is certain: with yesterday’s win, Texas may have wrapped up a spot in the NCAA tournament.