MANHATTAN, Kan. — When Texas guards are dribbling, dribbling, dribbling it around before driving inside, they can either go for the rim or kick it back out. On Wednesday against Kansas State, the latter option was far superior.
The Longhorns were bombing away from 3-point range and turned a close Big 12 opener into a rout. Jase Febres hit seven 3-pointers in a 67-47 victory in the Big 12 opener at Bramlage Coliseum.
Texas (9-4, 1-0 Big 12) had not won in Manhattan since 2016. The Horns were an eye-popping 14-for-27 from 3-point range. It was a one-point game midway through the second half. Then, Texas caught fire and used a 14-3 run to gain some distance and grab victory.
Febres had a career-high 23 points, topping his sensational first half against Baylor last season that put him on the map. Kerwin Roach II had 10 points, and Jaxson Hayes added nine more along with 11 rebounds.
Easy prediction: Hayes will see his name in this spot a lot in the next 2 1/2 months. Guard were eager to drive inside and either look for the 6-foot-11 big man or kick it back out to the perimeter. Roach threw it up to Hayes for an alley-oop dunk with 7:49 remaining to give Texas a 45-38 lead.
Febres’ 3-point shooting talent is undeniable. When he’s on, Febres is practically unstoppable. And he was on against K-State. He drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half. Febres hit two 3-pointers within three possessions in the second half to give Texas a five-point lead. It wasn’t all 3-point shooting, either. He also chased down two loose balls to give Texas possession.
The longer Texas passes it around the perimeter, the greater the chance for error. Take the second half for example. With less than 10 seconds left in the shot clock, Kamaka Hepa threw a tough pass that Febres couldn’t handle and the ball went out of bounds. Then, Dylan Osetkowski threw a cross-court pass that sailed out of bounds.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Hayes came into Wednesday having made 18 consecutive shots, inflating his shooting percentage to an out-of-sight .754. That had to end sometime, and that moment came in the first half. He was rushed on a short jumper that was just off the mark.
Still, he was all over the place, getting seven rebounds in the first half, grabbing rebounds and tipping others to teammates. It’s obvious why coach Shaka Smart put him in the starting lineup. Hayes will stay there for the foreseeable future.
Who arranged for these 8 p.m. tipoffs? The Longhorns and Wildcats started at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and Texas will do it again Saturday. West Virginia (8-5, 0-1) makes its annual pilgrimage to the Erwin Center for an 8 p.m. start. Coach Bob Huggins’ club opened Big 12 play with a 62-59 loss to Texas Tech. It was the 11th-ranked Red Raiders’ first win in Morgantown.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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