Wednesday night marked the season debut for Texas sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo, who was suspended for 23 games by the NCAA for not being up front from the start in regards to how expenses for a weekend of workouts in Ohio were handled.
But given the Longhorns’ lack of success this season (and the presence of bigger games on the national schedule) his return didn’t receive the widespread publicity that would normally come in such circumstances. So Kabongo’s return led to Texas’ 89-86 double overtime win over Iowa State, right?
While Kabongo’s return was important to a team in dire need of a steadying influence, Wednesday night didn’t happen solely because of his presence. In fact, Kabongo wasn’t on the floor when a development just as big took place.
With Kabongo having fouled out Rick Barnes needed someone to take over offensively in the second overtime period, and that’s exactly what sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan did.
McClellan scored all ten of Texas’ points in the second overtime and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, snapping out of an offensive funk that lasted the better part of three weeks. McClellan’s effort, which has been inconsistent, wasn’t an issue Wednesday and Texas reaped the rewards as a result.
“A lot of the criticism has just made me better and made me stronger. I don’t take it personally,” said McClellan following the game. “I know Coach loves me and wants me to be the best player I can be. He gave me credit today. He told me I had a good game and showed good effort.”
McClellan may be leading the Longhorns in scoring in Big 12 play (13.5 ppg) but he’s struggled percentage-wise, shooting 39.5% from the field and 22.2% from beyond the arc. Against the Cyclones, McClellan didn’t make a three-pointer (0-of-3) but he finished 5-of-10 from the field.
Before last night’s win Texas’ lone Big 12 victories came at the expense of Texas Tech and TCU, so to expect them to win at No. 14 Kansas on Saturday (even though they lost the first meeting by just five points) would be silly even with Kabongo back in the fold.
However there’s no denying that Wednesday brought about two developments that should make Texas a better team over the final seven games: the return of their point guard and Sheldon McClellan displaying the consistency that had been lacking for much of Big 12 play.