In his second game in a prominent position for the Texas Longhorns, Bahamian sophomore player Kai Jones came off the bench and played a pivotal role in them advancing to the semifinals of the 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational in Asheville, North Carolina.
For the second straight game, Jones had a perfect shooting night, finishing 4-for-4 from the field for 13 points to help the Longhorns (2-0) outlast the Davidson Wildcats (1-1) on Monday afternoon, winning 78-76 at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville. They will play the Indiana Hoosiers in the semis of the three-day classic today. The championship game is set for tomorrow.
For the season, the 19-year-old sophomore is yet to miss a shot attempt, shooting a combined 10-for-10 from the floor. On Monday, he buried his first two three-point shots of the season, proving that he could knock it down from deep, and also turned in a couple more highlight reel dunks. Jones got off to a slow start as he failed to score in the first half and had a couple turnovers. All 13 of his points came in the second half.
Jones scored eight in a row for the Longhorns midway through the second half, giving them a 61-57 cushion with 9:50 remaining. His second three-point shot of the half gave the Longhorns their biggest lead of the game, 68-61, with 7:32 remaining. However, that proved to be more then enough time for the Longhorns to come back.
The Wildcats had a
seven-point lead in the first half and the Longhorns took as much as a seven-point lead in the second half before the Wildcats made it close at the end, almost pulling off a stunning upset over the 17th ranked Longhorns.
After Brajkovic tied the game on a short hook in the lane with 1:04 remaining, the Longhorns executed when they needed to the most to come out with the win. A three-point attempt by Ramey went in and out, but the Longhorns retained possession after a video replay confirmed that the ball went out of bounds off a Wildcats player. Ramey took advantage on their next possession, driving the lane for a reverse layup with 19 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats got a break when they retained possession after a rebound attempt went out of bounds off a Longhorns player, and Brajkovic got a good look for a potential game-winner but the shot was offline and the Longhorns escaped with the win.
Junior guard Courtney Ramey led the Longhorns with 14 points, including the go-ahead basket with 19 seconds remaining. The lane opened up for him and he took advantage as he drove to the basket for what ended up being the game-winning shot. Ramey’s running mate, junior guard Andrew Jones, added 13 points, three rebounds and three assists, senior forward Jericho Sims added 12 points and six rebounds, and freshman forward Greg Brown gave them five players in double figures for the second straight game with 11 points and he added six rebounds. Senior guard Matt Coleman II added 10 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Freshman forward Sam Mennenga paced the unranked Wildcats with 17 points and five rebounds. Senior guard Kellan Grady added 14 points, four rebounds and two steals. Junior forward Luka Brajkovic contributed a dozen points and four rebounds and almost knocked in a game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer. Senior guard Carter Collins added 10 points, five assists and four rebounds.
As for the athletic Bahamian, he now has 27 points through the first two games of the 2020-2021 season, and as mentioned, is shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor. He has started one game and came off the bench in the other.
On Monday, Jones had more production in less time as he dropped in 13 points in just 18 minutes on the floor. In the Longhorns’ opening game last week Wednesday, Jones scored 14 points in 23 minutes on the floor.
The Wildcats shot a better percentage than the Longhorns on Monday, connecting on 56.5 percent of their shots (26-for-46). The Longhorns shot 48.2 percent from the field (27-for-56), but out-rebounded the Wildcats, 31-25, including 13-5 on the offensive glass, and dished out 18 assists compared to just 10 for their counterparts.
The game was pretty much close throughout. The Longhorns held a slim 43-39 lead at the half and just couldn’t pull away from the resilient Wildcats in the second half.
Following the 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational, Jones and the Longhorns will home to the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas and take on the number 12 team in the country, the Villanova Wildcats. That game is scheduled for Sunday December 6 at 12 noon Central Standard Time (CST), 1 p.m. local time in The Bahamas.
The Longhorns play in the Big 12 Conference in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball.