With tough stretch ahead, UT needs more than Brown

AUSTIN, Texas -- J'Covan Brown has a problem.

He’s a scorer. It’s his game. It’s how he has always played. It’s what he wants to do for Texas.

But The Texas guard can’t score, not with the consistency necessary to be successful in the Big 12. Oh sure, the junior leads the Big 12 in scoring with 19.1 points per game. But it is how he goes about getting those points that has started to bother the Texas coaching staff.

“Everybody thinks everything has to go through J’Covan, but he needs to drop it off some too,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said after Brown went 7-for-26 against Kansas. “He had a couple of shots that you shouldn’t take.”

“Some of those in the lane, when he drives, the defense collapses and somebody is open,” Barnes said after Brown went 3-for-16 against Iowa State.

But whoever is open is not getting the ball because Brown is shooting it. The junior has taken 315 shots. That’s very nearly double the 168 taken by the Longhorns’ next most prolific shooter, Julien Lewis.

In fact, no one in the Big 12 has taken more shots than Brown. Only Kansas’ Thomas Robinson comes close with 254. And Robinson shoots at a 54 percent clip. Brown is shooting 41 percent.

Now if that were Brown’s shooting percentage in Big 12 games, coaches could probably live with it. But Brown, with 113 shots in seven Big 12 games has once again taken more than any other player in the conference, is shooting 34.5 percent. At home he is shooting a staggeringly low 24 percent.

“My shot is just not going in,” Brown said. “I can make tough shots. That is what coach brought me in for.”

That’s true. Brown has the ability to get a look from just about anywhere and throws in some shots that others cannot make. But that trait can be a curse during a slump. Compounding the problem is the issue that Brown is the alpha male on Texas surrounded by players who have no clear grasp of their offensive game at this level. That allows for Brown to take over instead of the other players demanding their shots.

There is another ramification of the poor shooting that has Barnes worried.

“You can’t let your offense dictate your defense,” the coach said.

Brown did that against Iowa State. After missing a few shots, Brown began to either not get back on defense in a timely fashion or didn’t give the person he was guarding his full attention.

With Texas facing two top-10 teams -- Baylor and Missouri -- over the next four days, it has little time to fix these issues. But Barnes believes relying on the offense, rather than one player could help turn the tide.

“We run one option and it is not there and we just stand and look.,” he said. “You run good offense you might get some good looks.”

Instead, as of late, everyone has just been looking at Brown taking shot after shot.