The Longhorns are starting to peak at the right time. The same holds true for Kansas State, though.
Texas hosts the Wildcats Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center and look to extend its winning streak to three games. UT (15-9, 5-6 Big 12) has not won more than two games in a row since stringing together seven victories from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17.
Freshman guard Sheldon McClellan has given Texas a reliable scoring option in addition to J’Covan Brown over the past two games. McClellan scored 13 points in the first half of Monday’s win at Texas A&M and finished with 15. And against Texas Tech last Saturday, McClellan scored 17.
But McClellan will have to remain aggressive on the offensive end for the Longhorns to continue their success. In the three games prior to his recent scoring uptick, McClellan had nine total points. UT was 1-2 in those games.
“We can’t celebrate too much, we have to stay focused,” he said.
Texas lost its edge in the second half against the Aggies, a trend that’s starting to irritate head coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns built a nine-point lead, 55-46, only to allow A&M back in the game with an 11-5 run that made it 60-57. UT also had trouble closing the game against Texas Tech, when they surrendered a 10-0 run after holding a 25-point advantage.
Still, the Longhorns were finally able to make winning plays down the stretch on Monday.
“I didn’t like the way we carried ourselves when we got the lead, we got too casual,” Barnes said. “But when we got down, our guys stayed together. I didn’t think at any point in time there was doubt.”
K-State is also on a two-game win streak. The Wildcats are fifth in the Big 12 with a 6-5 conference record and beat Texas, 84-80, on Jan. 18. They’ve won five of their last seven games, and head coach Frank Martin’s squad typically plays its best ball in February.
“It’s just the way we work,” Martin said. “If you go back and look, that’s usually what happens. Our teams play their best basketball at the end of the year. If you go back and follow teams that I’ve been a head coach at, we play our best ball at the end of the year. That’s been consistent.”
Texas lost a heartbreaker to the Wildcats when Myck Kabongo and Brown fumbled an exchange at midcourt with the game on the line in the final seconds. But Kabongo is coming off his best game of the season (six points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals).
“He ran the team like a point guard should,” said assistant coach Chris Ogden. “And he always defends the other team’s best guy.”
Printed on Friday, February 10, 2012 as: Texas hopes to continue momentum