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  1. in Texas Longhorns Basketball By Chris Flanagan The State of Texas Basketball is strong and projects well for the foreseeable future. There is no question that Longhorns took an early hit during the 2K Classic when Isaiah Taylor took a hard foul and ended up with a broken wrist, but this Texas basketball team remained resilient. Players picked up for each other and stepped up in big moments. When the Longhorns were staring down defeat in Storrs, CT, Jonathan Holmes did what he does best: hit a corner 3 to win the game. While the senior provided the synergy and stability for this Longhorns team, the freshman phenom has provided the flash. Myles Turner has needed no adjustment period in college basketball. He is 1st on the team in total points, 1st in rebounds, 1st in blocks, and 2nd in free throw percentage. He has given this team a shot in the arm that was needed to potentially make a deep tourney run. The Longhorns also said goodbye to Damarcus Croaker. While he could have taken the low road, he decided to be a good teammate while he knew he was moving on from Austin. Damarcus Croaker is likely going to go to South Florida or Central Florida. He showed flashes but not enough to earn consistent minutes on the squad. The road ahead will be treacherous for the Longhorns. The Stanford Cardinal will make an appearance at the Frank Erwin Center and soon enough, Big 12 play will begin. As of now, the Longhorns have taken care of business and will be a formidable foe in the months to come. Biggest Surprise: Demarcus Holland In the offseason, most experts talked about how Texas needed their guard play to step up. It was also well known that Rick Barnes loves defense and Demarcus Holland is one of the best defensive players in the country. It was critical for Demarcus Holland to show some offensive flare and he has. Holland owns a 56.5% field goal percentage, 8.5 points per game, 53.5% from 3-point range, and his free throw percentage has improved to 76%. He did everything he needed to do to be a better guard for the Texas Longhorns. Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Kentucky It sounds like a cop out answer but this was the biggest disappointment so far this season. Players on this team have sacrificed their roles this season. and that's a good thing. The Longhorns came out flat after halftime in Lexington, Kentucky took advantage of it, and never looked back. When a team of UK's caliber gets on a run, it's very tough to mount a comeback. So it's a good lesson to learn as Texas enters Big 12 play. Nevertheless, it was obvious that Texas had a chance to win,and didn't put it together. Looking forward Big 12 play is going to be difficult for every conference team, not just for the Texas Longhorns. 9 out of the 10 teams have 2 or fewer losses in non-conference play. The Kansas State Wildcats are 6-4 but played a tough non-conference schedule including games with Arizona and Pitt. If Texas can start 5-0 before the January 24th game against Kansas, that would be a huge step forward for the program. The games are getting interesting.
  2. "Photo: USA Today Sports Defense reigns in win over Texas State Texas held Texas State to 27 points with just nine of them coming in the first-half, en-route to a 59-27 win over the Bobcats. The 27 points was the fewest allowed in a single game in school history. With the win the Longhorns improve to 8-1 on the season while Texas State drops to 5-2 in what remains the best start for the Bobcat hoops program since the 2007-2008 season. Texas State entered the contest ranked 10th in the country in defense and forced 10 Texas turnovers in the first half of play. The Bobcats never held the lead in the game and the closest they came was at 16:58 in the first half when Emani Gant made one of two free throws to tie the game at 3-3. Turnovers plagued the Horns in the 2nd half as well as they lost 9, notching 19 total turnovers against the Bobcats. “We’re good defensively but we’re not very good on offense, I can tell you that” said a frustrated Rick Barnes in post-game comments. Cameron Ridley scored 13 points in the second half and led all scorers with 14 points. Javan Felix provided a scoring spark off the Texas bench with 10 points. Texas shot 54.8% from the floor compared to Texas State’s 21.6%. The Longhorns will face the Atlantic Sun Conference’s Lipscomb University (4-5) on Tuesday, December 16th at the Erwin Center in Austin.
  3. Photo: USA Today Sports The Longhorns played Kentucky only one time prior to tonight’s matchup in Lexington and that was twenty-one years ago in Maui. Texas lost that matchup 86-61 and hoped to even the series with the perennial hoops powerhouse on their own court tonight, despite being without star point guard Isaiah Taylor. It didn’t happen. The Longhorns outplayed a poor-shooting Kentucky team in the first half and dominated the Wildcats on the boards, holding the lead for most of the half. At the under-five mark Jonathan Holmes was called for a flagrant foul, which changed to game momentum and propelled the Wildcats to a 6-0 run. Texas held ground with the top-ranked team at the half with a 26-26 tie. The second half was a different story for Kentucky. And for Texas. The Wildcats scored the first 10 points of the half and the Longhorns went more than 5 minutes without a bucket. Kentucky held the lead for the entire second half, increasing its largest lead of the game to 14 points at the under nine mark. The Longhorns would eventually charge back, cutting the Kentucky lead to 5 points with 1:44 left on a pair of free throws made by Jonathan Holmes. Kentucky would hold on and beat Texas 63-51, its second win over a Top-10 ranked opponent on the season (The Wildcats won handily over the Jayhawks 72-40 last month). The Longhorns turned the ball over 22 times, giving up 19 points off those turnovers. In the end Texas shot 29.8% from the field while Kentucky shot 37.5% Foul trouble plagued the Longhorns most of the night, ending with the fouling-out of both Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner. Jonathan Holmes and Prince Ibeh each finished with 4 fouls. Holmes led all Longhorns in scoring with 14 points and Kentucky’s Willey Cauley-Steins led all scorers with 21 points. Despite the team’s foul troubles, Texas proved they can compete with one of the highest caliber teams in the country – on the road, even without Isaiah Taylor. The final score was a double-digit lead for the Wildcats, but the game was much closer than the score indicates. Texas fans should continue to have high expectations from this team because they have all the tools to succeed this season. Rick Barnes and the Longhorns (7-1) will enjoy an eight day break before facing Texas State at home.
  4. Story - http://www.hornsports.com/articles/texas-longhorns-basketball/longhorns-land-highly-regarded-hoops-prospect-r4297 The day Texas hoops fans have eagerly waited for arrived on Friday, October 24th and with it came the commitment from one of the state’s top basketball prospects in the 2015 class. A consensus 4-star player, North Shore Senior High’s Kerwin Roach verbally committed to play basketball at The University of Texas. His announcement, which was made in front of his family, teammates and students in the North Shore Senior High gymnasium, was done so in non-traditional fashion. There were no hats nested neatly on the table followed by shuffling, with one finally resting on his head. Instead a baby wrapped in a blanket was carried to the podium where Roach removed the blanket from his baby cousin, who was wearing burnt orange gear. Simultaneously, he announced he would be playing college basketball “at UT.” Roach, a 6-3, 160 lb. versatile shooting guard, ultimately chose the Longhorns over Wichita State and Cal and held offers from no less than 20 schools. He joins Eric Davis (Arthur Hill High School, Michigan) as the second hoops commit in the 2015 class. Roach visited all of his Top 3 schools recently, spending last weekend in Austin and soaking in the Longhorns' open practice. I asked Roach what made him choose the Longhorns over the Golden Bears and the Shockers. He’s already connected with future teammate Eric Davis, as the two had an opportunity to get to know one another while they were both on an unofficial visit in Austin. Roach also said the Texas coaching staff spent time with him after last Saturday’s practice, running plays and showing him exactly how he will be involved in the offense. “My versatility is definitely something I will bring to the Longhorns,” said Roach when asked how he sees himself contributing to Rick Barnes’s squad next year. Roach has good shooting range and possesses the athleticism to make plays most college basketball players aren't equipped to make. With 2 commits in the '15 class and limited scholarships available, Roach could be the last for 2015. Martez Walker's departure from the team earlier this month could afford the 'Horns to add one more player, but at this point it is uncertain.
  5. #6/7 Texas (6-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. UT Arlington (3-3, 0-0 Sun Belt) Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 - 7:00PM (Central) Texas is a perfect 9-0 all time against UT-Arlington. The last meeting between the two teams was in November 2013 when Texas won 72-69. The Basics - UTA has dropped 2 in a row since starting season 3-1. - 11 Mavs averaging at least 11 minutes per game. - Texas has held its first six opponents to an average of 52.5 ppg on a combined 29.9% FG shooting (107-of-358), including a 26.1% mark (29-of-111) from three-point range. - UT has held each of its first six opponents to below 60 points AND 32% FG shooting. Schedule/Results for UT-Arlington - UTA lost 104-81 at Montana State in their last game. Montana State sank a team-record 18 3-pointers. - Wins: Bradley, Grand Canyon, HBU ​ - Losses: Buffalo, Kentucky, Montana State Scouting Report - In two wins (Bradley & HBU), the Mavericks shot 25-41 (61%) on 3-pointers . In their other four games (including all three losses), UTA was only 23-85 (27.1%) from 3-point range. ​ - Despite coming off bench in all 6 games, McClanahan is team's leading scorer (12.0 ppg). ​ - Four freshmen Kevin Hervey (F), Erick Neal (G), Kaelon Wilson (G) & Julian Harris(F), have combined to average 20.8 ppg,13.3 rpg & 4.5 apg. ​ - Neal (3.0 apg) is the team leader in assists. Wilson's 7 blocks/game is the team's best mark. Hervey is averaging a team-high 8.3 rpg & has led team in 5 games.
  6. #7/9 Texas (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Saint Francis (2-2, 0-0 Northeast) The game will be televised nationally by Longhorn Network. Lowell Galindo (pxp), Reid Gettys (analyst) and Jane Slater (reporter) will call the action. Tonight will be the first-ever meeting between Texas and Saint Francis Texas limited Cal to 31.3% FG shooting (20-of-64) in Friday’s win. The Horns have held their first four opponents to an average of 53.8 ppg on a combined 29.5% FG shooting (72-of-295). UT has held each of its first four opponents to below 60 points AND 32% FG shooting. Jonathan Holmes claimed 2K Classic MVP honors, averaging 20.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg in UT’s two wins in New York City. Holmes leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) while converting 21-of-32 (.656) FG, including 8-of-13 (.615) from three-point range, and 14-of-18 (.778) FT. Through the first four games, Texas has recorded 29 blocked shots (7.3 bpg). The Horns had 10 rejections in Friday’s win against Cal. Texas sports a +12.3 rebound margin (46.0-33.8) through the first four games this year and has outrebounded its opponent in all four contests.
  7. By HornSports correspondent Corey Elliot /opportunity/ - A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. Without that definition though, ‘opportunity’ is merely a word without meaning. In which case, ‘opportunity’ is simply what you make it. Opportunities are nothing more or less than what you make of them. At the University of Texas, the slogan says “What starts here changes the world.” For Former Texas Longhorns basketball standout P.J. Tucker, what started in Raleigh, North Carolina, led to three years in Austin, and stints in six different countries around the world. Tucker was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the 2006 NBA draft. After one season, he spent time with the Colorado 14’ers of the NBA D-League. After that, he went to Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico and Germany. His next NBA opportunity didn’t come until 2012 - no doubt it seemed further away than the miles between Germany and Austin, at one point. After joining the Phoenix Suns in 2012, the former second team All-American and Big 12 player of the year averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season. Tucker is fulfilling the same role off the bench this season for the Suns, and I was able to catch up with the former Longhorn this week to talk Texas, Rick Barnes and the fraternity of former basketball Longhorns. Elliot: With your journey to where you are now (with Phoenix), how much do you keep in contact with Coach Barnes? Tucker: I talk to those guys all the time. I stay in contact with those guys because they’re a really big reason, a really big part of the place where I’m at now. It’s prepared me to be tough, be strong. All the things that I do well in the league (NBA) I got from school, playing at Texas. Elliot: Texas, first thing is football. For a long time, the second thing was baseball. Right around T.J. Ford’s class and on, do you take pride in being one of those first guys that started changing the culture of basketball at Texas? Tucker: No doubt about it. It’s funny, after that final four, I came in by myself. My class was just me. To come in with all those guys that played with T.J. – Royal Ivey, James Thomas – some really big time players from LaMarcus (Aldridge) and Boobie (Daniel) Gibson and all the guys that came in after, it was like a train effect. It’s amazing how that happened and to be a part of those first couple teams that really changed Texas Basketball is cool. To be a part of that is cool. Elliot: It’s funny because a lot of people think it started with Kevin Durant Tucker: It’s so funny because there’s a lot of guys from so far (away). I’m from North Carolina, Royal from New York, the Canada guys and KD, he’s from Maryland, so it’s guys from everywhere, it’s not just Texas guys. Elliot: it’s been said that Coach Barnes does less with more. He’s not been to a final four since T.J. Ford was there. He’s not played for a national title. The recruiting is there, but what has been the issue? Tucker: He kind of got into that Kentucky (turnover rate) where so many good guys come in and one year, two years they’re out of there. We were preseason number one that year when me—I mean you’ve got to think—(when) me, LaMarcus, Daniel Gibson left. Kevin Durant came in, D.J. Augustin came, I mean (if we had not left for the NBA) that would have been eight players on one team so that would have been … (P.J. paused with a grin) … who knows. Year-in, year-out him recruiting guys he knows won’t be there long, trying to bring those kind of guys in to keep the program up, it kind of fell off for a second, but now it’s starting to get back there. Elliot: You follow the team closely right now, obviously (an excited P.J. Tucker interrupts)… Tucker: Yeah. For sure! I love Isaiah Taylor, I love all those guys. They’ve got some good guys down there, some good players. Big Cam (Cameron Ridley) down there is a beast. I love the whole team and what coach is bringing back to Texas. I think it’s going to be beautiful. Elliot: Where do you see this team ending their season? Tucker: I think they can go as far as they want to. I think, with a lot of veteran guys, even the sophomore guys got experience last year so Coach Barnes, the way he coaches, those guys can go as far as they want to. Elliot: Lastly, is there a fraternity of the former players in the NBA? Despite not playing with the younger Texas exes in the NBA today, those that committed after your time at Texas, do you all keep in touch? Tucker: For sure. We’re all brothers. Me and T.J. was just texting the other day, I talk to Royal Ivey weekly. All of us (keep in touch). I just saw Corey Joseph the other night, I just saw Damien James the other night and we were talking. We’re all still brothers. We all have a chain text together, so we talk all the time. It’s cool. Corey Elliot is a correspondent for HornSports.com. Follow Corey on twitter @CoreyElliot
  8. Photo: USA Today Sports Images The Longhorns ring in at #7 in the latest Associated Press (AP) College Basketball Poll, released today. Texas and Gonzaga made the most progress among current top 10 ranked teams, each taking advantage of Kansas and Florida Losses and moving up 3 spots. Kansas, previously ranked 5th, dropped to #11. The Gators, ranked 8th in last week's AP Poll, slid 10 spots to #18. Oklahoma (#18), Nebraska (#21), SMU (#22), Syracuse (#23) & Utah (#25) all dropped from the poll this week. Complete Poll: Ranking pic courtesy, NCAA
  9. The Longhorns (4-0) moved up to #9 in the week-3 USA Today Coaches Poll, after beating Iowa and Cal to win the 2K Classic Championship at Madison Square Garden on Friday. The Kansas Jayhawks, previously ranked 5th in the poll, dropped to the 12th spot after a blowout 72-40 loss to top-ranked Kentucky. The Gators dropped the most in this week's poll, falling 9 spots to #16 after losing to an unranked Miami Hurricanes team earlier in the week. Texas is 4-0 and faces St. Francis on Tuesday at the Frank Erwin Center at 7:00 pm. Complete Coaches Poll (Week 3) Poll courtesy, USA Today Sports
  10. FINAL SCORE: Texas 71 – California 55 1st Half: Texas 31 – California 21 Texas came out in the first 5 minutes of the game, attacking the rim, and playing aggressively through the post. It felt like a team effort with their starting PG out. A steal and outlet pass by Lammert resulted in an easy bucket that put Texas up by 10. With a 14-4 lead, the Horns got lazy (or overconfident) on offense and quit doing the things that made them successful in the first 5:00. California is out of sorts on offense and the Longhorns are dominating the defensive glass. Any lead would be safe with this style, let alone the 8-10 point lead Texas has. Connor Lammert is seemingly in position to grab every rebound. Myles Turner hasn’t taken great shots within the offense, but the youngster looks more confident and relaxed tonight. With Taylor out, Javan Felix will get a lot more time. In the first half, Barnes isn’t subbing for him hardly at all. In fact, the overall substitution pattern tonight has been slower than the first three games. 2nd Half Texas 40 – California 34 With 7 swats, Texas was already above their season average at the 16:00 minute mark in the second half. Cal cut the Horns’ lead to 6 early in the half, but Texas responded by picking up the intensity on both ends and opened the lead back to double digits. Cam Ridley and Myles Turner are settling for fade-aways (Ridley) and jumpers (Turner). The entire offense flows better when both are more aggressive. Jonathan Holmes already has a double-double at the 11:00 minute mark (15 points, 10 rebounds). For the second consecutive night, a Texas player took a hard foul and hit the deck. Last night Isaiah Taylor hurt his left wrist – against Cal it was Holmes. With Taylor already out, Texas fans had an uneasy moment when the team’s senior leader went down hard. Top takeaway When Texas plays with focus and patience on offense, they look unstoppable. At this point in the season, the team is going through 5-6 minute stretches with solid offensive play, then 5-6 minutes without having any rhythm at all. The frightening part for opposing teams is that the Horns are talented and deep enough to win most of their games even when they don’t play sound offensively. The stat story Cal shot 24% in first half and Texas was +9 in rebounds. Even though the Horns were only 1-7 from 3-point range for the half, that’s a combination that will please Rick Barnes. The Bears finished at 31% for the game. Jonathan Holmes finished with 21 points (6-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds – and, although impressive, his line doesn’t do his impact on the game justice. For the second consecutive night, Holmes was the spark that fueled his team. He is an easy choice for tournament MVP. Texas hit 31 of 37 free throws. Looking ahead The Longhorns have a layup at home next Tuesday against Saint Francis before traveling to Storrs, CT to play the Connecticut Huskies a week from Sunday. UConn is undefeated and playing for the championship in the Puerto Rico Tipoff.
  11. No. 10 Texas versus California Tip Time: 6:30pm, CST (30 minutes after the conclusion of the consolation game) TV: ESPN2 The Basics Cal hired Cuonzo Martin as Head Coach in April this year. Martin and the Bears are off to a 3-0 start. Cal is 3-3 against Top 25 teams over the last 12 months. The Bears returned 3 starters off last years team, and a total of 8 players that had game experience. Those 3 starters (F – Kravish; G – Wallace; G – Bird) account for roughly half of Cal’s scoring. Cal has a 2-1 lead over Texas in their all-time series, but both of those wins came in the 1960’s. Texas beat Cal in the 2000 Preseason NIT. Schedule/Results Cal 91 – Alcorn State 57 Cal 93 – Kennesaw State 59 Cal 73 – Syracuse 59 Scouting Report Jordan Mathews is the name to know on Cal’s squad. Matthews smoked ‘Cuse for 22 points, 20 of them in the second half, and was 6-12 from the floor. He leads Cal in scoring at just under 19 ppg. ​ David Kravish already has 9 blocks this season and provides excellent help defense. ​ Cal has used a 3-guard starting lineup in all three of their games. The Bears have some size on the bench with multiple players averaging 14-16 minutes/game. Whether Martin adjusts the lineup to add height is something to watch. ​ The Bears, particularly Jabari Bird, shoot the 3 very well. Bird was 4-5 from three point range against Syracuse and the Bears hit 4 consecutive 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the first half to pull away from the Orange. ​ Cal’s freshman center, Kingsley Okoroh, is 7’1”(254 pounds), and Kravish is 6’10” – the Bears have the height to frustrate Texas, but not the depth. Okoroh & Kravish must stay out of foul trouble for Cal to be successful. ​ At the small forward spot, Tyrone Wallace (6’5”, 200) is a prolific rebounder. Wallace leads the team in offensive (5) and total rebounds (22). ​ Cal has a solid assist:turnover ratio of almost 2.0 and their rebounding margin/game is over 8.
  12. Texas 71 – Iowa 57 1st Half: Iowa 30 – Texas 24 The Horns did not look ready to play, letting the Hawkeyes race out to a 10-2 lead to start the game. Texas slept through the first 5:00, playing little defense. The story on offense in the first half was a complete lack of rhythm. Entry passes were too slow, spacing was poor, and the entire team seemed content to watch whoever had the ball instead of running offense. The Longhorns were turnover machines – 10 in the first 20 minutes. Most offensive possessions needed an additional pass. Iowa dominated ‘hustle plays’ throughout the half, and it really showed up in the rebound column. 2nd Half: Texas 47 - Iowas 27 Johnathan Holmes went on an 8-2 run to start the half and tied the game before Iowa knew what hit them. Texas made more shots in the first 9:30 of the 2nd half (11) than they did in the entire 1st half (10). With less than 7 minutes to go in the half, Iowa still did not have any points in the paint. Isaiah Taylor drove to the rim at will throughout the half. The team’s offensive run in the first five minutes spread the Hawkeyes out on defense and Taylor took advantage. Scary moment at 2:06 when Taylor hit the floor hard after a flagrant foul. That’s the player that Texas can least afford to lose to injury. Trainers were working on his left wrist after he went to the bench. Top takeaways 1. It was truly a tale of two halves. Several of the bad habits from recent seasons reared their head in the first stanza, only to have the team play with urgency and use their athleticism in the second half. 2. After shooting only 32% in the opening 20:00, Texas ran away on 61% shooting in the 2nd half. It was the same story when they cut the turnovers in half in the second period. (10 in 1st to 5 in 2nd). The stat story After scoring just 2 points in the first half, Jonathan Holmes ripped the Hawkeyes for 17 points in the second half. Holmes’ ball fake that was followed by a drive and dunk was the play of the game for the Horns. Looking ahead Texas will play the winner of the California vs Syracuse in the championship game on Friday night. The game is slated to tip at 6:30 CST. Syracuse is the favorite in the second game, and Texas would face a hostile crowd on Friday if the Orange beat the Bears.
  13. No. 10 Texas versus No. 25 Iowa Tip Time: 6:02 CST TV: ESPN2 The Basics Even though the Hawkeyes saw 5 players graduate or transfer after last season, they are still a veteran team with 9 upperclassmen on roster. Inside that experience, the Hawkeyes return three starters off last year’s team. Iowa lost in OT to Tennessee in the 1st round of NCAA’s in 2014. In 4 previous meetings, Texas and Iowa are tied 2-2. The last meeting between the teams was in 2009 in Kansas City (Texas won). Schedule/Results Vs. Hampton: Iowa won 90-56 Vs. North Dakota State: Iowa won 87-56 Scouting Report Iowa uses good ball movement to find open looks on the perimeter. The Hawkeyes had 5 players in double figures in both games. In each of their two games, Iowa made 9 three pointers. As a team, the Hawkeyes are shooting 43.9% from 3-point range. 5 players shooting 56%+ from the floor 2 players shooting 60%+ from three point range (Anthony Clemons & Jarrod Uthoff) Magic Numbers 80 – Iowa is 36-6 when they score at least 80 points 61 – Iowa is 41-1 when they hold opponents under 61 points
  14. By Chris Flanagan Photo: USA Today Sports The Texas Longhorns won their season opener over the North Dakota State Bison 85-50. Let's take a closer look at the intricacies of the game: First Half - Myles Turner did not need an adjustment period to college basketball. His first 3 shots went in and he led the team in points at the half with 11 points. - Biggest surprise? Javan Felix.Yes, he had a missed 3 point shot but he had no fear shooting the ball and the missed 3 point shot was a good shot. - Jonathan Holmes went 3-3 with 8 points in only 6 minutes of action. Talk about efficiency. - Isaiah Taylor did not have a great first half shooting the ball - he was 1-6. Second Half: - Connor Lammert can still hit the three point shot. Great to have that coming off the bench. - Texas was able to get North Dakota State in foul trouble by driving to the basket every chance they got. That's a good thing. - Myles Turner picked up his 3rd foul with 12:30 to go in the game, on an offensive foul. He need to learn when to lay off. - Isaiah Taylor had a much better 2nd half. 16 points and Taylor handled the ball very well. That's what you want to see. - The free throw shooting was so much better than last season. - Myles Turner went 20 minutes and had 15 points. Very good debut. - Myles Turner actually sang "The Eyes of Texas" which many other players were not singing. Overall thoughts Myles Turner is the big storyline. I did not think that anyone would overshadow Cam Ridley, but Myles Turner did. Jonathan Holmes and Isaiah Taylor did what was expected from them. Everyone contributed in some form for this game. 5 players had 9 points or more, and the Longhorns also shot 32% from 3 point range. Biggest stat: 85.7%. That was the free throw percentage for the Texas Longhorns tonight. No matter what opponent you play, that's a statistic you can control. Biggest Takeaway: Depth. While Myles Turner was the focus on the floor, Texas had Jordan Barnett and Connor Lammert contribute as well. Although they did not score many points, they were not liabilities. That's what the Longhorns need if they want to get to the Final 4. Looking Ahead: Alcorn State is next. I don't expect the Braves to be much of a challenge. There are ways the Longhorns can improve - turnovers and fouls were a concern from this game. In the first game of the season so you'd rather those mistakes be made now instead of against Kentucky. A very good win for the Longhorns.
  15. The #10 Texas Longhorns begin their season on Friday night at the Frank Erwin Center when the North Dakota State Bison come to town. That means it's time to brush up on prognostication skills and talk about legitimate expectations for the 2014-15 Texas Basketball season: Non-Conference Schedule The North Dakota State Bison are just one of many top tier opponents that the Texas Longhorns will play in their non-conference schedule. The Longhorns play 5 teams (Iowa, North Dakota State, Kentucky, UConn, and Stanford) that went to the NCAA tournament last season, including both the National Runner up and the defending National Champion. Texas has the potential to play a 6th NCAA tournament team if they play Syracuse in the final of the 2K classic. The Longhorns need to be ready right out of the gate: in the first 8 games, Texas plays Kentucky, Iowa, UConn, and potentially Syracuse. I predict 2-3 losses in the non-conference season. Prediction: 11-2 (Losses to Syracuse and Kentucky) Conference schedule Jjust because they have the best raw talent in the league, doesn't mean the Longhorns to run all over the Big 12. It's going to be a dog fight all Winter. Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State all have very talented teams that have won in this league. Fans also shouldn't discount the quality of the Oklahoma State, Baylor or West Virginia rosters, especially if Bob Huggins is fighting for his job. The Big 12 is always a physical league and this year will be no exception. The Longhorns have to treat each game as it's own season. I expect the Longhorns to improve the results in away game compared to last year, but still lose enough of them to have the regular season title be out of reach. Conference record: 14-4 (3rd place behind Kansas and Kansas State) Conference tournament Despite being one of the more consistent programs in the Big 12, Texas has never won the conference tournament. They have been the runner up 6 times but never the champion. After steadily improving during the regular season, the Horns should be primed for a serious run at the title. In fact, I predict Texas wins the Big 12 tournament and gets the automatic bid. Big 12 Tournament: Champions Selection Sunday There will be no bubble team worry on Selection Sunday for Texas - the only concern will be what seed the Horns get. I predict they will get a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. Seed Prediction: 3rd or 4th seed Tournament prediction The NCAA tournament is all about matchups, but most 3 or 4 seeds sail through their first round game. Under Rick Barnes the Longhorns have fared well in first round games - their issue comes when they reach the Round of 32. The Longhorns are trying to end the streak of 5 consecutive NCAA tournaments that they did not make it to the Sweet Sixteen. I think the Longhorns will end that streak but not make it beyond the Sweet Sixteen. Prediction: Sweet Sixteen
  16. Who are the North Dakota State Bison? Located in Fargo, North Dakota (ya' know), the Bison are the heart and soul of North Dakota sports. Not only are they a great football program but they also have a good basketball program. Last season was one of their best season for the Bison - they finished 26-7, winning both the Summit regular season and conference tournament championships. They also upset 5th seed Oklahoma in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament. That was last year. That team had a number of seniors that have graduated. This season NDSU has 6 freshman on their roster, and last year's head coach, Saul Philips, was hired by Ohio University. The Bison promoted David Richman to the head coach position. Best player Lawrence Alexander Lawrence is now a senior for the Bison. He was fourth on the team in scoring last season. NDSU is going to rely on their senior leader to carry this young team on his back. Prediction North Dakota State is a tough opponent to draw in their first game of the new season. I think the Longhorns are ready to start this season off with a bang, and predict the Bison will stay within 10 at halftime with the Longhorns pulling away in the second half. Look for walk-ons to get a little playing time before the final buzzer.
  17. Chris Flanagan covered all the pieces individually, now let's talk about how they fit together... Anticipation and expectations are both running at high levels for the 2014-15 Texas basketball season. Considering that the program was an afterthought at the beginning of last season, the hoops squad completely transformed their relevance in the 40 Acres sports hierarchy in 12 months. After unexpected success last year, the hoops team returns a strong core and added two high school talents to that base. How those pieces fit together and whether the sum is greater than the parts are the two basic questions for this year’s team. The pieces Back Court – Demarcus Croaker; Javan Felix; Demarcus Holland; Isaiah Taylor; Kendal Yancy Projecting the starting guards is not a relieble exercise. Although Isaiah Taylor is going to be the point guard, the other spot is going to be highly varied. Courtesy of his on-ball defensive prowess, Demarcus Holland is a relatively safe choice at the beginning of the season. The Horns are going to run an offense similar to last year where they run the ball through the big men. With plenty of scoring options down low, plus Taylor’s ability to penetrate and score, it would not be surprising to see Rick Barnes opt to choose a defense-first option at the No. 2 guard spot. If Barnes chooses offense and wants more of an outside scoring threat then look for Demarcus Croaker to be the choice. Javan Felix will probably be the sixth man in terms of minutes played. Not only will Texas use Felix to spell Taylor at point guard, but Barnes will also substitute him on the wing to inject an outside shooting presence – especially on nights where the offense needs a boost. Kendal Yancy is the X-factor in the back court. He has the ability to bring the ball up the floor, hit outside shots, play solid defense, and create off the dribble. The problem is that Yancy, while capable of everything, is not outstanding in any area. How much Yancy has improved his overall game will be an important key to the season. If Yancy has improved enough to earn starting minutes alongside Taylor, the offensive combinations for the season go through the roof. Front Court – Jordan Barnett; Jonathan Holmes; Prince Ibeh; Connor Lammert;Cameron Ridley; Myles Turner Like the guards, projecting starting minutes for the front court is futile. Not only are there too many unknowns with this group, they are also hopeful of a significant transition from last year. Jonathan Holmes lost weight and reshaped his body in the offseason in an effort to move outside and be a formidable presence as a wing player (small forward). Holmes is the senior captain of the team and the rest of the squad respect the work he put in to move outside, as well as what he means to the team in the locker room. Holmes’ move to small forward is an experiment that could pay major dividends both in terms of the team’s outside shooting, and the flexibility it provides for the rotation of post players. Cameron Ridley is going to be the starter at the 5 spot. Ridley has steadily improved both his physique and his game during his first two seasons. With another off-season of improvements, Ridley appears poised to be a force in the interior. Connor Lammert will likely start at the No. 4 position, but the spot figures to be heavily rotated throughout each game. Prince Ibeh may find himself relegated to being a defensive specialist if he doesn’t prove capable of dependably contributing on offense early in the season. One of the things that has fans excited for the season is the addition of Jordan Barnett and Myles Turner. Freshmen have proven capable of transitioning quickly to the college game and both Barnett and Turner are expected to contribute immediately. Barnett will factor into the rotation at No. 4 and Turner has the ability to play both down low and outside. The strategy The options on this year’s team are so plentiful that fans should expect lineup changes and varying personnel combinations into February. For Barnes, the key will be balancing his proclivity for defense with having enough offensive threats on the floor at any given time. Expect Barnes to use the regular season much like Augie Garrido does – results in the first 60 days are not going to be nearly as important as the growth of the team. For Texas to make the NCAA tournament run they appear capable of, finishing as regular season conference champions is not a priority compared to finding the right rotation of players, having individual players improve throughout the season, staying healthy, and building confidence. This team is going to be judged based on how they perform in March (and possibly April). Barnes may even borrow from Charlie Strong and talk about “the process” during January and February - anticipate growing pains throughout the season. Key questions Where do the perimeter jumpshots come from? Much has been made of the Horns’ lack of effective three point shooting last season. At Media Day almost every player on the roster commented that working on their outside shot was a significant focus of the off-season. The key isn’t just for Isaiah Taylor and the guards to make more shots – first they have to take more. The simple act of launching more jumpshots is going to change how defenses have to play Texas. Plus the Longhorns are going to be a very capable rebounding team, so missed shots should present opportunities at put-backs. At least half the roster could improve their 3-point efficiency several points. Barnett and Turner also present interesting upgrades in perimeter scoring. How well does Jonathan Holmes play at small forward? Holmes will play around 25 minutes/game this season. If the bulk of those minutes come from the wing, then Barnes has incredible lineup flexibility. As a dependable outside shooter and above average rebounder, Holmes’ biggest question at the 3 might be his ability to play man-to-man defense against what will often be the other team’s most athletic player. However, with Holmes at small forward, zone defense is going to be an option, especially if the Senior struggles against a small, quicker player. Is the bench a blessing or a curse? Although the aforementioned lineup flexibility is being portrayed as a positive, the fact is that Texas has more than five players that are capable of being a starter. How the team reacts to minutes being spread up and down the bench is an under-rated storyline. Team chemistry was high last year, so expectations are that it will continue to grow. However, especially when most of the team put in a tremendous amount of work in the offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise for a player or two to be dissatisfied with their playing time. How those situations are handled, both in the locker room, and by Barnes, is going to determine this team’s ceiling. If the roster buys into the concept of ‘team over self’ then the rotation is a huge plus.
  18. Cameron Ridley (6'9" 285 lbs. #55 Center) Highlights of Cameron Ridley: http://youtu.be/6DoIJ0pNP18 Outlook: Cameron Ridley is the best player on the Texas basketball team. His presence on the blocks gives the Longhorns the key puzzle piece they were lacking in recent years. His shot blocking ability and strength in taking the ball to the basket is almost unmatched in the Big 12, and rivals any elite post player in the entire NCAA. Every season Ridley has made substantial improvements to his game - after being a below average rebounder, Ridley became the best rebounder on the team; he went from a liability on the free throw line to one of the best free throw shooters on the team; and, perhaps most importantly, Ridley went from a flabby freshmen to a toned junior. His commitment to this program and to his game is only matched by Jonathan Holmes on this squad. A major key for Texas this season is to see how Ridley has improved his game. Ideally that jump will come in the junior's consistency and his distribution of the ball. Ridley averaged less than half an assist per game in 2013-14. That means that when the big fella got the ball down low, he rarely kicked it back outside. I don't expect that to change significantly, but I do expect the options he can pass the ball to be much better. Isaiah Taylor should be more confident as a shooter, and the addition of Myles Turner as another capable offensive player down low, should result in Ridley not feeling like he has to be the one always going in for a layups (or dunk). From a team growth standpoint, the biggest improvement Ridley could make is to develop a jumpshot. He doesn't have to be a sharpshooter, but if Ridley was at least a threat to step away from the paint and knock down a shot, the other Texas post players get more room to work.
  19. Prince Ibeh (6'10" 260 lbs, #44 Power Forward) Highlights of Prince Ibeh: Outlook: Coming off the bench, Prince Ibeh is an asset for the Texas Longhorns basketball team. His defensive presence gives the Longhorns continuity when Cameron Ridley needs a breather. The issue is Ibeh's game is his offensive inconsistency. Last season, Ibeh made a great defensive plays, and then was the cause of a turnover on the other end. Those kinds of struggles left the Longhorns vulnerable to fast break points. Another concer, although it's tempered this year by roster depth, is that Ibeh's defensive tenacity also gets him into foul trouble. Ibeh average 2.9 personal fouls per game while only averaging 13 minutes. That number must come down. I don't expect Ibeh to average more minutes this year but I do expect to see his points per game to go up from 3.5 to around 5.5 or 6. I also think his foul numbers will stay the same - reason being that he has the security blanket of Myles Turner and Cameron Ridley. Ibeh's game is to be an aggressive defender. He likes to get in the face of the opposing players and show that he means business.
  20. Connor Lammert (6'9" 240lbs. Junior Forward) Videos of Connor Lammert: Outlook: At media days, Rick Barnes mentioned that Connor Lammert was the most improved player coming into this season. Is that "coach-speak", or legit? We'll only know when the season begins. If true, Lammert will be a huge asset to the Longhorns. Lammert will come off the bench as the back-up for Johnathan Holmes (along with Jordan Barnett). Johnathan Holmes will get into foul trouble and Jordan Barnett might not be ready to rise to the challenge, so, when called on, Lammert must be ready to be the "glue guy" for Texas. If Lammert raises his scoring average to 9-10 ppg, he will be a force for the Longhorns. His ability to shoot from the outside is an asset that will be utilized all season. Perimeter shooting from the small forward rotation is one way Texas needs to assert themselves as Big 12 contenders. If Lammert makes two or three 3-point shots per game, the Longhorn offense should be dominant.
  21. Highlights of Jonathan Holmes: http://youtu.be/pTxiFpuJqWw Outlook: Jonathan Holmes is the centerpiece of this Texas Longhorns basketball team. His presence in the gym, locker room and on the court is the leadership this Longhorns team needs to continue to be successful. To take that next step and be a legit contender to get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, the Horns need their senior captain to keep them motivated and focused on the end goal. To keep them focused when all they want to do is quit for the day, or when they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they must do, Holmes must assume responsibility and push the team forward. I don't believe Jonathan Holmes will turn into a 20 ppg player this season. Rather that be a scoring machine, Holmes likes to facilitate play, and make the team better. He should improve to 15-16 ppg but if he doesn't, expect the assist numbers to rise as well as his free throw percentage numbers.
  22. Damarcus Croaker (6'2" 190lbs, #5 Guard) Highlights of Damarcus Croaker: Outlook: As you can see, the highlight reel for Croaker is all from his high school days - that's because he didn't play very much this past season. Croaker only averaged 9.5 minutes/game but showed some flashes of his potential in his limited time. It's difficult to say what fans can expect from Croaker. Given the void left my Martez Walker, Croaker will get more playing time but will he be more efficient with his time and score more points? If he doesn't score more points, he has to create scoring opportunities by obtaining more rebounds, steals and assists. With Walker off the team, Demarcus Holland will likely earn the starting job. Croaker and Kendal Yancy should split the substitute guard minutes. With the Longhorns already having two guards signed for the 2015 class, it might be in anticipation of a potential transfer. Croaker has plenty of talent but being away from his child in Florida makes him a transfer candidate.
  23. Javan Felix (5'11" 190lbs, #3 Guard) Highlights of Javan Felix: Outlook: After a season of on-the-job training as a freshman, Javan Felix was supposed to come into his sophomore year as a more polished player and a key starter for the Longhorns. Then Isaiah Taylor happened. Despite Taylor's emergence, Felix still averaged the same amount of minutes as he did in his freshman year. He also managed to improve his 3-point shooting percentage and averaged more points per game (11.6) than Cameron Ridley (11.2). At the other end of the floor, his defensive presence is good. Even though Felix is limited physically when matching up with tall guards, he still averages nearly a steal per game. The downside of his contributions is that Felix took too many bad shots. His FG% was 35.8% - the lowest percentage of anyone on the team averaging at least 10 minutes/game. His rebounding numbers also dropped from his freshman to sophomore year. Often at a height disadvantage, Felix averages 2.4 personal fouls a game. Felix must do a better job of moving his feet on defense, especially on players who are driving to the basket. So what can we expect from Javan Felix in his junior year? A good 6th man. Felix will play the point guard position when Taylor needs a break. Since Felix is more of a spot-up shooter than Taylor is, defenses will play him and the rest of the team differently when he is on the floor. Felix's willingness to shoot 3-pointers is an asset to the team only if he takes smarter shots. If he can fake more of his three point shots and bounce pass the ball to the paint or to a cutting guard to make a layup, that high percentage play will put the Longhorns in a better position to win games. If Felix embraces his role and becomes a smarter player in terms of shot selection and knowledge of the game, he will get more playing time. I have faith in Javan, he is a very smart, disciplined player. He just needs to show it on the court in pressure situations.
  24. Demarcus Holland (6'2" 190lbs, #2 Guard) Highlights of Demarcus Holland: Outlook: As a sophomore, Demarcus Holland saw a dramatic increase in his minutes per game from 16.5 up to 29.6. All of his statistical averages doubled accordingly. The issue with Holland is his inconsistency as a shooter. As a freshman, he shot 34.4% from the field and as a sophomore, it only increased marginally (41.4%) despite his increased minutes. If Holland doesn't improve his shooting percentage, opposing teams will play off of him and clog up spacing for other players. One positive trend in Holland's game is that his 3pt shooting percentage nearly doubled from 17.4% to 29.2%, The bad side was his free throw percentage dropped from 66% to 57% - that is unacceptable for a guard who plays nearly 3/4th of each game. The improvements needed for this season are better dribble penetration and an improvement in free throw shooting. It's clear that he can shoot from three point range, if he improves to 35% - 40%, it will create more space down low for the big guys which is going to be Texas's bread and butter.
  25. Isaiah Taylor (6'1" 170lbs, #1 Guard) Highlights of Isaiah Taylor: http://youtu.be/mKPYgZ7CUHk http://youtu.be/Y-Y_viRB13c Outlook: Isaiah Taylor was one of the biggest surprises ofthe 2013-14 season. The freshman was a great addition to the Texas Longhorns basketball team - a scoring threat that added a dimension to the team that was missing from the 2012-13 squad. The problem was Taylor's game had it's limits...he was adept at dribble penetration, but could score with a floater or a layup. Another limiting factor for Taylor was that toward the end of the season, his effectiveness faded. Against Texas Tech and West Virginia, he only made 2-15 shots and 6 points. Both teams did a good job of shutting down the lane. I recognize that Taylor was only a freshman and fully expect him to continue developing his game. To maximize the team's success this year, he needs to develop a dependable jump shot that draws defenders to him. If he is a threat to score from outside, opposing teams will have no choice but to defend him. If someone comes out to defend him, that will open up a driving lane to either take it to the hole or pass the ball to one of the big guys for an easy score. High percentage shots are always ideal but Taylor will have to develop a jump shot to keep the opposing defenses honest.

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