AUSTIN, Texas -- Game after game and close loss after close loss, J'Covan Brown shouldered the blame.
Against Oklahoma, Texas' leading scorer reversed the trend and put the team on his shoulders.
The junior ignited a comeback run with a pair of threes, bracketed around one by Sheldon McClellan, as the Longhorns went on a late 17-6 run to grab the 72-64 comeback win over Oklahoma at the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday night.
The win, while not eye raising or resume boosting, may have been enough to at least keep Texas (19-11, 9-8) in the NCAA Tournament conversion. The conversation around Oklahoma (14-15, 4-13) is about how this game is so similar to many played before it.
"We've had some good stretches,'' said OU coach Lon Kruger. "But again there was a stretch or two that is not very good and we can't overcome that.''
Usually Texas can't either. At least not against good teams. Texas is 0-8 in games decided by two possessions or less when playing a team with a winning record. It is 3-0 when faced with a late deficit and forced to come back against teams with a losing record.
"These guys have found a way all year when they needed to get it done and they got it done all night,'' said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Again Texas has found a way to do it against teams with losing records. Texas has just one win against a top 25 team.
Maybe the tournament committee members won't notice that fact. And maybe they just turned in late against Oklahoma. Because early it was ugly.
"You got to be kidding me,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes yelled at his team during the first timeout.
Five of the first six shots had been threes. It was the last thing Barnes wanted. It was exactly what OU wanted. The Sooners, playing a three-two defense, wanted to force those quick shots. They took a few of their own as well and hit 10 of the first 15 shots.
"On the road you need a margin,'' Kruger said. "You want to add to that margin.''
That was what Oklahoma couldn't do.
"We gave away too many possessions,'' Kruger said.
Texas took advantage of those. After being told at the 16-minute mark that their season was on the line, Texas responded.
"I knew I had to come through,'' said Brown, who finished with 22. "Coach told me to keep shooting, it is going to go in when it matters.''
The same message was sent to McClellan. After pulling the trigger too quickly early in the game, the freshman calmed down, measured his shot and knocked down two crucial threes as he finished with a career-high 24 points.
"I took my shots and wanted to be aggressive,'' McClellan said.
"Our guys found a way to finish it,'' Barnes added. "It just flipped so quick there at the end.''
Now the long hours begin for Texas. Next is No. 4 Kansas in Lawrence. Odds are Texas will not win there. Baylor should be waiting in the Big 12 Tournament. Texas has played them closely twice, but like it has against every other strong team, folded when it mattered.
So, barring an upset win by Texas, the Longhorns have stated their case. Now they have to wait to see if it has done enough to get into the NCAA Tournament for the 14th straight time.
"I am glad to se them in the position they are in right now with more basketball to play,'' Barnes said.
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation
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