Getting reacquainted with the Longhorns
Three weeks ago, Rick Barnes' Texas basketball team handled Kansas in Austin, Texas, giving the Longhorns their fourth straight win over a top-25 team and catapulting them into the chase for the Big 12 championship.
The Horns' bigs gave the Jayhawks fits, and point guard Isaiah Taylor flew up and down the floor, rarely slowing down.
Today, No. 19 Texas (20-6 overall, 9-4 Big 12) comes to Allen Fieldhouse trying to narrow the gap between first and second place against No. 8 Kansas (20-6, 11-2).
A pair of road setbacks since UT's defeat of Kansas on Feb. 1 kept the Longhorns from gaining any more ground on KU. Here is what Texas has done since knocking off the Jayhawks:
• W at TCU, 59-54
• L at Kansas State, 74-57
• W vs. Oklahoma State, 87-68
• W vs. West Virginia, 88-71
• L at Iowa State, 85-76
That leaves the top half of the Big 12 standings looking like this, heading into Saturday's marquee matchup between the top two teams in the conference:
Iowa State, 8-5
Kansas State, 8-5
If the Jayhawks earn some redemption for their 81-69 loss at Texas tonight, a 10th straight Big 12 championship becomes even more attainable. If the Longhorns pull off a sweep of KU, the next couple of weeks become very interesting in the Big 12 title chase.
Texas held KU to 38.5% shooting in the first meeting. In the Longhorns' nine conference wins this season, opponents have scored 66.1 points and shot 38.1% from the floor — plus a 29.2% mark from 3-point range.
In their four Big 12 losses, the Longhorns allowed an average of 83.5 points per game on 47.6% shooting.
UT out-rebounds its opponents by an average margin of +8.0 a game, and has won the battle of the boards in 21 of 26 games. The Longhorns got the better of the Jayhawks, 38-33, on Feb. 1.
Now, it's time to get reacquainted with the Longhorns who will try to duplicate that success in tonight's rematch.
Jonathan Holmes, No. 10
6-8, 240, jr. forward
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 22 points, 6/13 FGs, 1/2 3s, 9/10 FTs, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 0 turnovers, 3 blocks.
The team's most experienced player and a certain leader, Holmes averages 13.1 points and 7.4 rebounds.
He's one of the most effective scorers in the Big 12, converting 51.2% of his shots, hitting 23 of 60 3-pointers (38.3%) and making 78% of his free throws.
The one thing he doesn't do much of on offense is pass to set up someone else: 16 assists this season vs. 43 turnovers.
He hauled in a UT season-high 16 boards (including six on offense) in the Longhorns' win at TCU on Feb. 4.
Defensively, Holmes is one of three UT players in the top eight in the league in blocked shots. At 6-8, he's eighth, with 1.21 swats a game.
Javan Felix, No. 3
5-11, 195, so. guard
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 9 points, 1/6 FGs, 0/2 3s, 7/10 FTs, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 18 minutes.
The undersized guard scored 16 points and nailed four 3-pointers for the second game in a row in UT's loss to Iowa State this week.
Felix has been on a tear the last three games, averaging 20.3 points on 22-for-52 shooting and 14-for-33 accuracy (42%) from behind the 3-point line.
On the season, he averages 12.8 points and 2.8 assists, but in Big 12 games, the sophomore's scoring numbers have gone up, to 15.5.
Felix leads UT with 44 3-pointers this season, and he attempts 5.3 a game, making 33%. He hit what proved to be a game-winner in the final seconds of overtime at Temple in December.
Isaiah Taylor, No. 1
6-1, 170, fr. guard
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 23 points, 7/14 FGs, 1/2 3s, 8/8 FTs, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers.
The speedy freshman was a highlight reel waiting to happen against Kansas in Austin, Texas.
Taylor averages 13.1 points and 3.7 assists on the season, but is coming off another breakout game at Iowa State, where he scored 26 points, and had eight assists, seven rebounds and one turnover.
Taylor has only taken 15 3-pointers this season, but uses his speed to create high-percentage opportunities, and shoots 41.7% from the floor.
His ability to beat his man off the dribble also helps him get to the free-throw line, where he has made 124 of 165 attempts (6.6 trips a game) this season — 75.2%.
In his last seven games, Taylor is averaging 19.1 points and shooting 45.3% from the floor. At the foul line in that stretch he has only missed three of his 50 free throws.
Cameron Ridley, No. 55
6-9, 285, so. center
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 9 points, 3/7 FGs, 3/6 FTs, 10 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 4 blocks, 4 fouls in 23 minutes.
The ginormous center delivered one of the most impressive plays of the game against Kansas three weeks ago, nearly tearing down the rim on a dunk as he went past Joel Embiid.
In 25.1 minutes a game this year, Ridley averages 10.8 points and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds.
Ridley pulls down 3.0 offensive rebounds a game.
His 2.31 blocks are third-best in the Big 12, and he denied four KU shots in the Horns' win at UT.
Demarcus Holland, No. 2
6-2, 185, so. guard
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 2/4 FTs, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals.
Usually the last offensive option when he is on the floor, Holland still averages 7.8 points a game.
The sophomore has made 40.5% of his shots this season, but struggles from behind the 3-point line, where he has only made 13 of 45 (28.9%).
Those shooting woes carry over to the foul line, too, where Holland is just 41 for 73 (56.2%) on the year.
Still, as a guard he averages 5.0 rebounds and does enough little things that he leads UT in minutes a game this season: 31.12.
Connor Lammert, No. 21
6-9, 235, so. forward
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 7 points, 3/5 FGs, 0/2 3s, 1/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block in 19 minutes.
Though he comes off the bench, Lammert has scored in double figures four times this season.
The sixth man averages 5.7 points and is third on the team with 5.0 rebounds.
The 6-9 forward stretches opposing defenses occasionally, making 14 of 37 3-pointers this season.
Overall from the floor, Lammert has made 49.6% of his shots.
Prince Ibeh, No. 44
6-10, 250, so. center
— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 2 points, 1/3 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 3 rebounds (all on offense), 1 turnover, 4 blocks, 3 fouls in 17 minutes.
Ibeh didn't play a ton against Kansas, but he proved to be as significant a deterrent to the Jayhawks' offense as anybody in burnt orange, swatting away four KU shot attempts.
The backup big only averages 14.0 minutes a game this season, but contributes 3.7 rebounds and 1.88 blocks (fourth in the Big 12) to go with 4.2 points.