It's really a shame, you know, that the Texas Longhorns are sort of stuck in one of those in-between seasons. They lost 75 percent of their scoring from a year ago and haven't found much in the form of adequate replacements. To stay busy, fans are anxiously awaiting their 2012 top five recruiting class to get to campus.
Currently at 12-5 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, it appears that the Longhorns are destined to be the center of all that bubble discussion for the remainder of the regular season. But if they continue hovering around the .500 mark, it’s best for fans not to look away.
Instead, take the time to watch the maturation of one J'Covan Brown. The Texas guard is having an exceptional season for a number of reasons.
Just this past Saturday, despite getting thumped by the Missouri Tigers, Brown poured in a game high 34 points on 10-16 shooting. He nailed six of seven three-pointers and only turned the ball over once.
Following the game, Brown, playing with a bum ankle that he turned on January 4th against Iowa Sate, said he has recently been playing at only 70 percent. This despite scoring as though he's playing at 100 percent.
"It feels better than when I (injured) it in the Iowa State game," Brown told the Austin American-Statesman over the weekend. "I couldn’t walk. In the Oklahoma State game, I couldn’t move on it. So it feels way better today."
In that game against the Cowboys, Brown did his best Byron Leftwich impression, hobbling through 28 minutes of run, including nailing a crucial three-pointer in which Brown stuck the landing on one foot.
As the leading scorer in the Big 12 playing on a second-tiered team, the immediate assumption to make is that Brown is simply getting the green light to shoot without regard for common sense.
Au contraire, hater.
Sure he accounts for 30 percent of his team’s field goal attempts, but Brown currently boasts a career best offensive rating of 122 and is just a tick under two assists for every turnover. He’s also scored 20+ points in eight of his team’s 17 games this season. In the two outings where he struggled offensively, shooting under 20 percent against UT-Arlington and Texas A&M, the Longhorns still won, and Brown contributed by NOT turning the ball over and acting more as a facilitator.
It’s been well documented the Brown has a tendency to be a head-case (primarily with his shot selection) and that has both of stalled his development in Austin and drawn the ire from fans. Just as recently as November we were talking about how he still could not be a leader after he spouted off to a ref for a personal foul call. His fourth foul led to his fifth, and Texas saw a comfortable double-digit lead slip away to North Carolina State in his absence.
Remorse doesn’t erase the loss, but Brown wasn’t flip with reporters after the game. He knew he screwed up.
"I'm mad that I made that mistake," Brown said after that game. "But that's behind me and I'm ready to get past that. And I can't put my team in that type of position ever again. So I gotta learn from it and just move on with it."
Texas has appeared in the last 13 NCAA Tournaments, the longest streak in program history, but it’s in jeopardy of being snapped. With Brown running the show, looking to will his team into the field of 68, be sure to watch next time Texas is on the tube.