The big news surrounding Texas’ 85-67 win over No. 23 North Carolina on Wednesday night had little to do with the performances of Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis, but rather the fact that according to a report form Yahoo! Sports sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo would be suspended for the remainder of the season.
McClellan scored ten of his team-high 18 points from the foul line, Lewis added 16 and Jonathan Holmes 15 and eight rebounds in the Longhorns’ most impressive win of the season.
But even with the production of those three against the Tar Heels, Kabongo’s absence (pending appeal) means that Rick Barnes will need freshman point guard Javan Felix to make the Longhorns “his team.”
Felix, who has started all 11 games at the point and is averaging nearly 36 minutes per game, finished with eight points (3-of-12 shooting), eight assists and three turnovers on Wednesday night. For the season the New Orleans native is averaging six assists and just under four turnovers per contest, with an assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5) that sits just outside of the Top 20 among Big 12 players.
But the biggest issue for Felix has been his shooting, as he’s making just 31.3% of his shots from the field and 9.5% (2-of-21) of his attempts from beyond the arc. Given Texas’ overall youth (only freshmen and sophomores played last night) and the inconsistency of scorers like Lewis the Longhorns will need more than just distributing the basketball from Felix as the season wears on.
To this point in the season Felix’s best scoring nights have come with a caveat of sorts: turnovers. In Texas’ loss to Chaminade in the first game of the Maui Invitational Felix scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting but he also turned the ball over three times (five assists).
And in a career-best 20 point night in a win over Texas State on Saturday, Felix dished out seven assists but turned the ball over five times.
Can the freshman achieve the proper balance of increasing his scoring output while also taking better care of the basketball? If Texas is to entertain any thoughts of staying afloat when Big 12 play rolls around, that will have to be the case.