KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After the end of last season, several media members asked Shaka Smart if Jacob Young had the talent to play in the Big 12.
Fast forward a year later. Young went for a career-high 29 points to keep the Longhorns alive in what eventually ended up as a 73-69 loss to Texas Tech Thursday night.
“I remember those questions,” the Texas coach said. “And tonight, he was a pretty damned good Big 12 player.”
Young said his shooting effort wasn’t anything unusual.
“Felt just like I was in practice,” Young said. “I got in my zone and never got out of it. I told myself I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and just keep trying to fight for my teammates and everybody on my staff.”
But he didn’t feel like he was a secret weapon for a Texas offense looking for punch with Eric Davis Jr. out of the lineup in a team-mandated decision after his name surfaced in a Yahoo report.
Jacob Young surge pulls Texas out of early slump
Young and Mo Bamba provided Texas with a boost after a struggling start Thursday night. The Longhorns missed 13 of their first 14 shots and fell into an early 14-2 hole.
Despite Young and Bamba combining for 39 of their 69 points, it wasn’t enough. Tech never trailed as they charged into the Big 12 semifinals for the first time since 2005.
Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight was the coach of that team. Current Texas Tech coach Chris Beard was an assistant on that staff.
Tech came up with two critical stops to cool Young off late in the game.
Beard challenged his team to stop Young, who started the game hitting his first 6 3-pointers.
“Coach was like who was going to step up and take the challenge and I told him I would,” Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans said. “So I was trying to get on him and make it as tough as I could and trying to make it hard for him.”
Young came into the game averaging 5.4 points per game. But once he got started, the youngest son of legendary former Houston scorer Michael Young brought back memories of his dad.
“We knew he was streak and could turn into a big-time scorer,” Evans said. “We just lost him a couple of times and slipped up on some stuff. He got hot and just kept going.”
Don’t forget about Jacob Young, he says
His big game on Thursday might have introduced him across the nation. But Young insists it won’t be a “secret weapon” for the Longhorns in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t see it like that,” Young said. “I see it as my teammates pushing me up to be who I am and do what I do. That’s what they know is for me making my shots and be a fighter. That’s basically it. I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”
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