KANSAS CITY – Sophomores Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan came up big off the bench for the Longhorns in their 70-57 win over TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Wednesday night.
Lewis led the Longhorns with 19 points, hitting four three-pointers. McClellan scored 12 points and hit seven of eight attempts from the free throw line.
“I think we’re coming out with a lot of confidence,” Lewis said. “[Head] coach [Rick Barnes] asked us to be aggressive when we come in. We gotta go in and do our jobs.
The Longhorns struggled in the first half, leading last-place TCU by two going into the locker room with a score of 28-26 at halftime. Kabongo led Texas in scoring with eight points in the first 20 minutes. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-2 lead but allowed a surge by the Horned Frogs to bring the score to within two.
A 3-pointer by TCU’s Nate Butler Lind gave the Horned Frogs’ their first lead of the game, making it 22-21 with 2:49 left in the half, but Lewis responded with his own three-pointer on the next possession to put Texas back out front.
The Longhorns defense held TCU to 33.3 percent shooting in the first half, but allowed several key three-pointers that kept the game close.
“At the start of the game, I thought our defense was outstanding. We really came out and create some offense,” Barnes said. “Our defense got stymied on offense a little, on the offensive end. We knew it was going to be a hard fought game from the beginning.”
Throughout the second half, the Longhorns stayed aggressive to maintain the lead. The Horned frogs kept it close at first, posting a 39-27 lead at 14:49, but the Longhorns bounced back and played smart, extending the lead to 13 points.
“Being aggressive, that’s all it is, is being aggressive and staying in attack mode and knowing that when we’re in the bonus, just take care of the ball and trying to be aggressive,” Kabongo, who scored 16 points and had six assists, said. “Just being aggressive.”
The No. 7 seed Longhorns will turn around and face No. 2 seed Kansas State on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Longhorns dropped both regular season contests to the Wildcats by double digits.
“Well I’m not sure they’re not the best team, one of the best teams in the country,” Barnes said of Kansas State. “They don’t give you anything easy.”