The Longhorns (4-2) were far from perfect, even getting out-rebounded on the defensive end. The Mean Green (1-4) grabbed 22 offensive rebounds to the Longhorns' 21 defensive rebounds, and out-rebounded the Longhorns by 16 boards overall — 46-30. But Texas was able to push its lead to double-digits just before halftime at 36-26 and was never seriously challenged afterward.
After such a sloppy effort last Saturday against Sam Houston State, Tuesday came as a big relief. Texas trailed North Texas 3-1 early, but after tying the game 3-3, never trailed again. At the point of that effort was Kabongo, who made the most of his four shot attempts, hitting three of them, including two three-pointers. He was also 8-for-10 from the free throw line.
"I think he did a good job," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "You look at what he did offensively, and it's quite an impressive line. What I think he did that was most impressive was he guarded their best player all night. What people don't realize with Myck out front is that he is constantly getting beat up by teams setting ball screens and things like that. That's where his teammates really need to help him. I thought he did a terrific job tonight. Offensively, he made some good things happen, and defensively, he gets after it every night."
"Prior to this game, our spacing was not the best and we worked on it so hard at practice all week," Kabongo said. "The spacing is there now, and some shots are starting to get open for us. All we have to do is keep improving and getting better with our spacing."
The Longhorns led by just six at 32-26 a few minutes before halftime, but closed the first half — which ended with Texas leading 38-28 — and opened the second half with a 19-6 spurt.
But the Mean Green did a nice job of holding down J'Covan Brown, who was largely swarmed by guard Alzee Williams. Brown was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting, but he didn't try to force things and finished with three assists to just one turnover.
Williams, meanwhile, might have had the game's top overall performance. In addition to the great defense he played on Brown, he scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed five rebounds.
"We knew he was a big-time player," said Williams of guarding Brown. "Coach (Johnny Jones) just wanted me to be with him on every play."
The North Texas rebounding effort was headed by Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin, who scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, including four offensive boards. Jordan Williams grabbed eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, while Alzee Williams had four of his five boards on the offensive end.
"One thing that our coach stressed was outworking them, and that was the main thing that the big guys did, even the guards," Franklin said. "We wanted to outwork them on each possession and crack the glass because we know Texas is a big team that is known for getting big physical guys. We just gave it all that we had. We crashed hard and I guess you can say that the proof is in the pudding."
Texas will now hit the road to take on UCLA. That game, set for Saturday, will have a 3:30 p.m. tip.