UT needs Fe­bres'' scor­ing punch

Fresh­man will take big­ger role for sec­ond half of Big 12 sched­ule.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Brian Davis bdavis@states­man.com

In re­cruit­ing, coaches lav­ish play­ers with praise. After sign­ing day, the de-re­cruit­ment process be­gins.

In typ­i­cal fresh­man fash­ion, Texas guard Jase Fe­bres never could quite fig­ure out coach Shaka Smart.

“You get frus­trated dur­ing prac­tice. ‘Why is he al­ways on me?’” Fe­bres said. “But after­ward I look at it like, ‘OK, he wants me to be great.’”

Fe­bres got spo­radic play­ing time in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, so he wasn’t on many teams’ scout­ing re­ports when Big 12 play be­gan. Then he went off for 18 points in the first half against Bay­lor and made four 3-point­ers. At one point, Bears coach Scott Drew was scream­ing at his play­ers to de­fend the red-hot fresh­man.

When it was over, the uber-con­fi­dent Fe­bres shrugged it off. “Hon­estly, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. We didn’t get the win. So I’m not sat­is­fied with any­thing,” he said.

On Wed­nes­day, Texas (14-7, 4-4 Big 12) will em­bark on the sec­ond half of Big 12 play at 10th-ranked Texas Tech. Fe­bres can no longer play the role of doe-eyed new­comer. The Longhorns need him to pro­vide an out­side scor­ing pres­ence, es­pe­cially as teams re­cal­i­brate the de­fen­sive set­ups on Mo Bamba in­side.

Per­haps last Satur­day’s show-

ing against Ole Miss was a sign of bet­ter things to come. Fe­bres hit four 3-point­ers, all com­ing in smooth fash­ion off the wings, as he tal­lied 12 points in an 85-72 win.

“I’ve been on him about you’ve got to be more as­sertive and ag­gres­sive on the court,” Smart said after­ward. “You’ve got to demon­strate to all those around you that you have a pas­sion for this game.”

Texas still has the worst 3-point shoot­ing to­tals in the Big 12. The Longhorns are sit­ting at 30.6 per­cent, which is ac­tu­ally an im­prove­ment from where it was. UT’s guards have been shoot­ing it bet­ter the past few weeks, forc­ing de­fend­ers to think about go­ing away from dou­ble-team­ing Bamba.

If the Horns can just shoot marginally bet­ter from long range in Fe­bru­ary, their odds of win­ning could in­crease ex­po­nen­tially. That’s where Fe­bres can help. This is the same ath­lete who once hit 20 of 31 3-point shots dur­ing a sum­mer AAU event. It’s one of the key rea­sons the Horns wanted him.

Bamba is av­er­ag­ing 13.1 points while shoot­ing about 55 per­cent. De­fend­ers have been quick to dou­ble-team him, forc­ing Bamba to give up the ball. Op­po­nents will gladly let UT’s guards fire from deep.

That might work, but maybe not. Eric Davis Jr. hit four 3-point­ers against Ok­la­homa State, but the Cow­boys held on for a one-point win. Ker­win Roach II hit four 3-point­ers in a win over Iowa State and two more against Ole Miss.

Bamba is 3-for-3 from down­town in the past two games. “Some of you owe him an apol­ogy,” Smart said. Per­haps so, but Bamba won’t get paid to rain 3-point­ers un­til next sea­son in places like Or­lando, Sacra­mento and At­lanta.

For now, Bamba has to make his way wrestling the maulers in the Big 12. “We all know that Mo’s not go­ing to be con­fused with Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger,” Smart said with a laugh. “But Mo is stronger than he looks, and he’s not go­ing to back down.”

Nei­ther should the guards. In UT’s 67-58 win over Tech on Jan. 17, the Longhorns made only six 3-point­ers as Bamba piled up 15 points and 11 re­bounds. Roach had 20 points and five boards. Texas went right at Tech, drew fouls and hit 15 of 21 at the free-throw line.

The Red Raiders (17-4, 5-3) have re­bounded since. They knocked off Ok­la­homa State and then beat South Carolina in the Big 12/SEC Chal­lenge.

Ev­ery team will present dif­fer­ent looks in the sec­ond half of the Big 12’s roundrobin sched­ule.

“This Big 12 race, wher­ever you are in the stand­ings, it is a marathon,” Smart said. “There’s a lot of twists and turns.”


Texas guard Jase Fe­bres is av­er­ag­ing only 3.7 points but had 18 points against Bay­lor on Jan. 6 and 12 against Ole Miss on Satur­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.