Texas forward Kai Jones drives up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#IN his second game back following an ankle injury sustained earlier this month, Kai Jones set several career highs to help the Texas Longhorns snap a three-game losing streak.
#Jones finished with 10 points and made two three pointers in 35 minutes (all career highs) as the Longhorns defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 70-56 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday night.
#Jones was a perfect 3-3 from the field, 2-2 from beyond the arc and 2-2 from the free throw line. He also added six rebounds and two blocked shots in his most complete game of the season.
#It was a hot shooting night all around for the Longhorns as Jones was one of three Texas players to set new scoring career highs in the game.
#Fellow freshman centre Will Baker finished with 20.
#Smart said the ability of his freshman centres to stretch the floor helped the team to neutralise the Horned Frogs’ pivot Kevin Samuel.
#Samuel finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
#“It reminds me of the famous John Beilein phrase, ‘a shooting five man changes’ the world. It changes everything.
#The way you’re able to play, the way the floor gets opened up. When you’re playing against a guy like Samuel who’s really really good defensively around the basket but if the guy he’s guarding, whether its Will or Kai – who made a couple of big shots – can step away, then it turns to our advantage,” Smart said.
#“For those guys, Kai and Will, to be a threat out there, it’s a testament to how much work they put in and they put a lot of extra time and work in. They think of themselves as guys who can make that shot but there’s a difference between thinking it and doing it in the game. [This game] they did.”
#Baker, Jones and redshirt freshman guard Andrew Jones accounted for all nine Longhorns threes on the night.
#Texas trailed 38-36 at the break but had a dominant second half defensively. They limited the Horned Frogs to 18 points on 24 per cent (7-29) shooting, including 0-10 from three-point range.
#Leading 54-51 with 4:15 remaining, the Longhorns closed the game on a 16-5 run.
#Jones’ previous career high was eight points against McNeese State on November 30.
#Jones, an incoming member of the 2019 freshman class, came to Texas as one of the top 50 Prep Basketball recruits in America.
#He was listed at No. 49 in the final ranking of the ESPN Top 100 for the Class of 2019 following his standout season at Brewster Prep Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
#A consensus four-star recruit, Jones earned a scout grade of 88 overall and was ranked No.13 among all centres, No.12 in his region and No.1 in the state of New Hampshire.
#He was inserted into the Longhorns’ starting lineup in a January 25 matchup against LSU and started the following games against TCU, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech.
#He suffered an ankle injury against Texas Tech after just eight minutes and was sidelined for the February 10 matchup against the No.1 Baylor Bears.
#In a January 15 matchup against Oklahoma State, Jones finished with a career high five blocked shots in just 16 minutes of the Longhorns’ 76-64 win on the road.