Myck Kabongo returned to the Longhorns Wednesday after a 23-game banishment by the NCAA, but the star for Texas was a guy who often has been missing even when he is in the lineup.
Guard Sheldon McClellan scored all 10 Longhorn points in the second overtime, leading them to an 89-86 victory over Iowa State in front at the Erwin Center.
McClellan, a sophomore, has been criticized by coach Rick Barnes for being too passive. Indeed, the last time Texas faced Iowa State (16-8, 6-5), on Jan. 12 in Ames, McClellan played only one minute.
This time he was anything but docile, driving to the basket, fighting for rebounds, playing rugged basketball.
“I was just being aggressive,” McClellan said. “Our offense got kind of stagnant. Coach told me to drive the ball and I did.”
McClellan led the Longhorns (11-13, 3-8 Big 12) with 18 points. He grabbed eight rebounds. Freshmen Ioannis Papapetrou and Connor Lammert scored 14 apiece, a season-best in Lammert’s case.
Kabongo produced 13 points and 7 assists in 35 minutes. He fouled out with 1:42 left in the first overtime. Kabongo’s presence was an edge for the Longhorns in his first game of the season.
“It was a hard fought game for a season-opener,” Barnes said.
Afterward, Kabongo showed up at a news conference but did not take questions. He thanked the fans and said, “It’s not about me; I’m not answering any questions. I just want to keep moving forward.”
Only 5,571 fans turned out to greet Kabongo, but he was met by a tough trio of Cyclones. Guard Tyrus McGee scored 21 for Iowa State — hitting five 3-point shots — and forwards Will Clyburn and Melvin Ejim had 20 apiece.
Sophomore Jonathan Holmes also returned to the team Wednesday, after missing five games with a broken right hand. Holmes also fouled out in the first overtime, finishing with four points and three rebounds.
It took smart coaching and a clutch play for the Longhorns to reach overtime.
Trailing by three points with 5.6 seconds left in regulation, Barnes called a timeout. When play resumed Papapetrou threw the inbounds pass to Holmes in the foul lane. Holmes passed back to Papapetrou, who made a 3-point shot with 1.7 seconds left.
Longhorn Julien Lewis made two 3-point shots during the first overtime, his only baskets of the game.
Javan Felix, given a chance to win the game in one overtime, missed a runner along the right baseline at the end of the period.
The Longhorns shot 50.8 percent, their second-best accuracy of the season.
As Kabongo’s return approached, Barnes was asked if he would play point guards Kabongo and Felix together. Barnes didn’t sound thrilled with the prospect, citing primarily Felix’s lackadaisical defense.
But Barnes changed his mind, sending Felix in to play with Kabongo at times. Felix made two 3-pointers with assists from Kabongo.
“I didn’t know they could play that well together,” McClellan said.
Felix finished with 12 points.
“Myck took a lot of pressure off Javan,” McClellan said. “It was good to have Speedy Gonzales back.”