AUSTIN, Texas -- Before Texas started its five-game, 12-day trip through the toughest part of its schedule, J'Covan Brown implored his teammates to walk into each game with a chip on his shoulder.
That chip is carrying a little less weight after Wednesday. Texas lost the first of the five, 84-80 to Kansas State. Next up is No. 7 Kansas. Then comes Iowa State, a team that has already beaten Texas. Followed by No. 3 Baylor, and finally there is No. 5 Missouri, again another team that has already beaten Texas.
By the end of the run through the Big 12’s best, Texas might need to forget about carrying a chip on its shoulder and find a shoulder to cry on instead. And they might want to save a few tears for the end of the regular season.
The way things are shaping up, Texas (12-6, 2-3) appears in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years. But those are woes for later. The here and now concerns center around Texas maturing and playing with an attitude.
“We’re not going to let anybody walk over us,” Brown said. “If you’re going to play us, you’re going to play on our terms.”
That all sounds good. And, as a junior, Brown probably means what he said and is able to puts some action behind those words.
However, not everyone is able to play up to Brown’s standard for 40 minutes. Take freshman point guard Myck Kabongo. He has had flashes of brilliance in the last two games and notched back-to-back double-doubles. But Texas has lost both of those games because Kabogno had ill-timed turnovers and allowed the opponent’s defense to dictate how he sets up the Texas offense.
Brown said, in order for the offense to run correctly, things have to be settled by the point guard, and that “everybody is not trying to make that big play.”
Texas has to figure out who its playmakers are. Brown clearly is one. He leads the conference with 19.2 points per game and can seemingly get his shot off at any time. But most of the top teams have a complementary scorer or even a third option. Kansas has Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Missouri has Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe. Baylor has Quincy Acy, Pierre Jackson and Quincy Miller.
Still, as bad as that appears, Texas has had chances to win on the road at Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State.
Texas had the ball, down two, with 20 seconds left against Kansas State when Kabongo turned the ball over. Texas was within five against Missouri midway through the second half before three turnovers in four possessions allowed the Tigers to take control down the stretch.
“We have to execute our offense,” assistant coach Chris Ogden said.
“We can’t play outside of that offense,” added senior Clint Chapman.
Texas also has to forget about whom they are facing the next four games or what has happened in the last two games.
“You’ve got to play,” Ogden said. “You’ve got to figure out the things that are making us lose and change some things.”
If Texas doesn’t, the one that is going to change is its streak of postseason appearances.