Just six days ago, Jase Febres was pulled out of the Texas starting lineup and moved to bench. The sharpshooting guard had lost his rhythm and touch from outside, going 4-of-16 in his previous two games behind the arc. And while the sophomore guard easily could see the change as a demotion, he instead used it as an opportunity Wednesday night.
In Texas’ first Big 12 contest of the season, Febres stole the show off the bench, racking up a career-high 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting from three to help the Longhorns (9–4, 1–0 Big 12) clinch a 67-47 win in their first road victory against Kansas State since 2016.
Throughout the contest, especially late in the second half where he drilled all five of his three point attempts, Febres felt more confident and composed behind the arc. That combined with an emphasis on shot preparation provided the foundation for a career night.
“I came in and made sure my shot preparation was the same regardless of if they were (contested) or not,” Febres said. “Coach preaches always to stay in my shot and to make sure I am not leaning back. I make sure to keep that in my mind every look and the results were pretty good today.”
The sophomore’s shooting display over the game’s final 11 minutes opened up the Texas offense after a difficult first half. Struggling to find buckets against Kansas State’s 2-3 zone defense, Texas scored only 25 points in the period.
But the advantage Febres provided opened passing lanes and easier shot opportunities across the floor in the second half. Forward Jaxson Hayes finally found room to operate under the basket and found six easy points near the rim. Forward Dylan Osetkowski and guards Courtney Ramey and Kerwin Roach all found more open looks from behind the three point line and driving to the rim.
And with the Texas defense playing at an exceptional level at the other end of the floor, the Longhorns were able to expand a three-point lead at the half into a dominant 20-point conference victory.
“I do not think we moved the basketball, did not finish at the basket a couple times, missed some open shots and overdid it a little bit,” Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said. “All of the sudden, it went from us winning to us being down 15–20 points. They just blitzed us down the stretch."
Even when the Longhorns struggled to find points, their defensive effort was able to guide them the entire evening. Texas forced the Wildcats into 11 turnovers and held them to their second-lowest point total this season. Head coach Shaka Smart added that it was the intensity on defense which he was impressed with most.
“The thing I told our guys coming into the game, ‘It’s probably not going to be the prettiest game you ever played in. You might not have an ideal offensive game, but if you fight and battle for 40 minutes, it’s going to work out our way,’” Smart said.
Now the Longhorns must hope they can maintain the same urgency they played with on defense and work to bottle the offensive success they created down the stretch in the second half. With West Virginia entering the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday evening, an important test in their ability to do so will come in just a few days.
“As we know, road wins are really challenging,” Smart said. “Now, we need to go home and protect our home floor and play with just as much juice and just as much defensive tenacity on Saturday.”