Texas coach Rick Barnes might have been disappointed that his star player sophomore Myck Kabongo was suspended for the first 23 games of the season for accepting airfare and personal training instruction, as well as providing false and misleading information in two separate interviews with the NCAA when they investigated Kabongo’s behavior.
He also might have been the opposite of disappointed Wednesday night, when Kabongo put the team on his back to defeat Oklahoma, 92-86, in a thrilling overtime battle.
Yes, it was incredibly exciting that Kabongo hit a buzzer beater to send the game into overtime. But without not only Kabongo’s career-best 31 points, but his effort in Texas’s overwhelming second half full-court press, the Longhorns would have never been able to get back into a game in which they were down 22-points with just eight minutes to go.
“At halftime, you know I wasn’t really happy and I asked, ‘who was going to guard this guy?’ Myck said, ‘I will guard him.’ I said, ‘who is going guard this guy?’ Myck said, ‘I will guard him if that is what it’ll take.’ That is the kind of attitude we want,” said Barnes after the win. ” He was terrific and I don’t think people truly understand what he did…the most impressive thing was the 37 minutes at the level that he competed at on both ends.”
As the Longhorns ended regulation on a 32-10 run, Kabongo went for 16 points as Texas forced their opponents to turn the ball over 6 times down the stretch.
“We were down and whenever you’re down you’ve got to play with some sort of urgency,” said Kabongo, who’s averaging 18 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds in the five games he’s played in this season. The 22 point deficit was the largest comeback that Texas has overcome in Barnes 15 years with the program.
As much as Kabongo was the star of the night, we haven’t mentioned the shot of the night, which Kabongo sunk with time expiring to send the game to overtime.
“The play was for Sheldon (McClellan). It was supposed to be a dribble hand off, but that way was closed. We needed to make a play and I made a play at the end and it went in,” said the evenings star. After tying the game, Kabongo went on to score the Longhorns first 6 points of the overtime period, which he finished with 8 points.
In what’s been a relatively terrible season for a very bright star, Kabongo had his coming out party Wednesday night, leading his team over one of their most bitter rivals. A strong sign of what’s to expect in the future, when Kabongo will be able to play a full seeason.
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