It didn't come easy, but Texas kept their NCAA tournament 2012 hopes alive by winning their final home game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Texas struggled with their outside shooting, going 6 of 24 from three point range. But it didn't matter, as Texas did enough other things to win.
On a night where Julien Lewis was unable to play, Sheldon McClellan stepped into the starting lineup and scored 24 points, going 10 of 18 from the field. J'Covan Brown chipped in with 22 points and 5 assists, and hit several big thee point shots during the key stretch of the second half where the Longhorns took control of the game. Myck Kabongo also played well, dishing out 9 assists with only 3 turnovers.
Texas' took the lead on a J'Covan Brown three point shot with 5:40 left in the game, which capped off a nice run of three point shots by the Longhorns. After the flurry of Texas threes, the defense took care of the rest. In the final 5 minutes and 40 seconds of the game the Sooners only managed to score 4 points.
Texas won this game with tough defense and by sticking with the plan on offense, even when the shots weren't falling. It is the kind of win that ought to make Texas fans happy. It sure made me happy.
A few more short notes after the jump.
Tactically, this was an interesting game. Oklahoma mostly played a 3-2 zone. Texas' approach to attacking this zone was exceptionally well conceived, but they struggled shooting the ball. During the first half, Texas was able to use high ball screens and drive through the seams of the defense. It seemed that Myck Kabongo and J'Covan Brown could get into the paint at will. During the second half, Oklahoma adjusted by tightening the gaps between the guards, which exposed them to the corner three point shot. The Longhorns quickly adjusted to this change, and found McClellan and Brown open in the corner. Thankfully, McClellan and Browns' shots started to fall.
Jaylen Bond and Jonathan Holmes both quietly had solid games. Neither one lit up the scoreboard, but both did work on the glass. Bond had 8 rebounds, and Holmes had 7. It was also perhaps the best defense I have ever seen Holmes play. He made several key defensive plays down the stretch, and had 3 steals in the game.
Sheldon McClellan showed the full range of what he is capable of on both ends of the floor. He hit three point shots and got to the rim and finished. He even played a little defense, coming up with 3 steals of his own. When McClellan plays this well, he takes a lot of pressure off of J'Covan Brown, and gives Texas another credible scoring threat on offense.
So enjoy this win. There was a lot to like. It is always good to win by eight in a game where your shots aren't falling.