Taylor’s 19 help men’s basketball get back on winning track

Basketball_Isaiah_Taylor_9By Steve Lansdale

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Junior guard Isaiah Taylor scored a game-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half, to lead the No. 25/25 Texas Longhorns to a 71-70 win Monday at Kansas State.

The victory, UT’s fourth straight against the Wildcats. improved the Longhorns’ record to 18-10 overall and 9-6 against Big 12 opponents, while Kansas State fell to 15-13 overall and 4-11 against conference foes.

Taylor led the UT offense by hitting five of eight field goals, including his only attempt from behind the three-point arc, and converted all eight of his free throws. Javan Felix added 13 points, sinking six of his 11 shots, while Eric Davis, Jr., added 10.

The Longhorns won despite getting outrebounded, 36-27 — a stat that was due in part to the fact that center Prince Ibeh fouled out in just nine minutes, having scored just three points and failing to pull down a single rebound.

To Texas head coach Shaka Smart, the margin of the score was immaterial — what mattered was that the Longhorns went on the road to play a conference opponent and came away with a victory.

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"I think we won by one,” Smart said. “I know Kansas State had a shot at the end, if the ball goes in, they win. We have been on the other end of that too. I do not care if we win by one or by 100. We came up here to win — (it) certainly was not our best game, but our guys battled. It is challenging that on both sides, so many fouls were called. You have to adjust out there as a team, and I thought in the second half, our guys settled in and played with a little more discipline. You have to give Kansas State credit. They made some big plays on offense."

Taylor said that the victory might not have garnered any style points for the team, but revealed that the Longhorns have the depth needed for a team to succeed when its top players don’t play at their best.

"I just think that we showed our depth tonight,” Taylor said. “Prince (Ibeh) was in foul trouble, Connor (Lammert) was in foul trouble. Tevin (Mack) came in and played some big minutes for us. Shaq (Shaquille Cleare) played some big minutes for us and got a clutch bucket for us down the stretch. I just think that we showed that we are a deep team. We played hard tonight just to get the win."

The victory marked a rebound game for the Longhorns after their loss Saturday to Baylor. Smart said the most important part of the result in Manhattan was the return to the win column, and gave credit to Taylor for his late-game heroics.

"Saturday we were out of character in terms of who we really are, but we are still becoming who we really are. It was a good step to go on the road in this league and win — I do not care who you are playing. Kansas State is a good team. We only beat them by three at home. Isaiah (Taylor) had a lot of aggressiveness in the second half, and we needed every one of his free throws. He shot one hundred percent from the line. That was huge."

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