Bahamian collegiate basketball player Kai Jones was held to just one field goal on Tuesday night, and scored just three points; but more importantly, his team, the Texas Longhorns, ended a three-game slide, getting back in the win column in NCAA Division I basketball.
The Longhorns (12-5, 6-4 Big 12) play out of the Big 12 Conference in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball, and have experienced a tough time so far this season due to COVID-19 cases and close contact with positive cases within the program. Still, few would argue that they’re quite capable of salvaging their season, and they took a huge step in that direction with a spirited 80-77 win over the Kansas State Wildcats on the road at the Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, on Tuesday.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, the Longhorns had lost three straight and four of their last five games – this after rising to a season-high fourth in the national men’s college basketball rankings. The Longhorns have now slipped to number 13 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Rankings that was released on Monday, and are in fourth in the Big 12, having dropped four conference games this year.
As for the game, the Longhorns led by as much as 17 points in the second half but struggled to put away the resilient Wildcats. They clawed themselves back in the game, getting within four points on the strength of a 19-6 scoring run late in the second half. The unranked Wildcats weren’t done yet, getting as close as one point in the final minute of the game, but they were never able to surge ahead.
Clutch free shooting from the
Longhorns and great defense down the stretch preserved the win.
Jones scored his only basket early in the game, and one of two free shots from him gave the Longhorns their biggest lead of the game, 62-45, with 13:07 remaining. He finished with just three points on 1-for-2 shooting from the field and added three rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Junior guard Andrew Jones paced the Longhorns with 24 points. Freshman forward Greg Brown added 17 and seven rebounds and junior guard Courtney Ramey contributed 14 points and five assists. Freshman guard Nigel Pack led the Wildcats with 22 points and added five rebounds and senior guard Mike McGuirl contributed 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.
In the Longhorns’ previous game, a hurtful 75-67 double overtime loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Jones finished just a rebound short of what would have been his second double-double of the season and the second one of his career. He had 11 points and nine rebounds. Earlier in the season, he had a 15-point, 10-rebound outing in an 80-79 loss to Oklahoma.
For the season, Jones is averaging 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is fifth on the team in scoring and third in rebounds. The 20-year-old 6’ 11” sophomore forward is shooting 59 percent from the floor (second on the team), and is actually leading the team in three-point shooting among those with at least 20 attempts (45 percent). He has played in 16 of the team’s 17 games, missing just one game due to COVID-19 contact tracing, has started twice and is averaging 22.4 minutes per game.
The Longhorns are looking to finish the season strong and position themselves for postseason play, looking to obtain a high seed for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.