After a huge disappointment last year, not too many people expected anything from Texas. The Longhorns are proving a lot of people wrong with their start in Big 12 play, which now includes winning twice in a row against ranked teams, including a 67-64 victory over Kansas State thanks to a buzzer beater by Jonathan Holmes.
Texas had a chance to win without using a crazy 3 from Holmes, but they messed up the first inbounding play which would have left Holmes wide open for a layup. Instead they got one more time before going to overtime; Isaiah Taylor put the ball on the floor for Holmes who took a step, turned around and buried a tough 3-pointer to set off the celebrations inside the Frank Erwin Special Events Center.
Holmes was the hero in the ending, but he had only 8 points in the game. Texas were mostly carried by Cameron Ridley with 18 points and 6 rebounds while Javan Felix led the way scoring 23 points. Felix has been outstanding over the last three games which included the win over then #8 Iowa State, averaging 19.7 points per game. Ridley has also been upping his game over the last 3, averaging 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Texas finished with a losing record in 2012-2013 for the first time under Rick Barnes, which also meant missing out on the NCAA Tournament. Considering the names in the Big 12: Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State (who they’ve lost to already), Iowa State and Baylor, not too many were giving Texas, without any seniors or superstar freshman, a chance to do much in the conference.
Now? They’re 4-2, with three wins over ranked teams this season. There’s still a very tough road ahead of them before this season can be crowned a success, but there are plenty of signs that a happy ending of sorts is waiting for them. They’re 8th in the nation in rebounding and in the top 50 in scoring with just under 79 points per game.
Some suggested Rick Barnes’ job was in danger after constant underachieving in the NCAA tournament, not winning the conference since 2008 and the inability to get to the nation’s top talent. But Barnes hasn’t forgotten how to coach basketball, and even though he doesn’t have the flashiest names to carry his team forward, there’s enough talent to be more than just competitive in a very tough conference.
They’re close to being a Top 25 team, too. It’s going to be like this all year in the league.. You go on the road you and have a chance to grab a game, you have a chance to break their spirit. We didn’t do it.
Thomas Gibson was the only one who put a noteworthy performance for the Wildcats, scoring 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting (the rest of his team went 37.2% from the field). The 6’7 Junior is averaging 11.8 points per game this season and has now scored more than 20 points on back-to-back games. He got some help from Shane Southwell with 13 points, but that wasn’t enough to avoid losing for the second time in the Big 12, now tied with Texas at 4-2 behind an undefeated (in conference play) Kansas.