Jonathan Holmes

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Butler went ahead and ended Texas’ disappointing season Thursday afternoon, 5648.

And it was all too familiar for head coach Rick Barnes and company in college basketball’s biggest tournament.

Costly turnovers. Inefficient offense. Missed free throws in the clutch.

“At the end of the day, it was us executing more and finishing games,” junior guard Demarcus Holland said. “We’ve been in a lot of one and two possession games. We could have made that one play, could have changed the whole game. Obviously we fell short, and that sucks.”

In the midst of an ugly game, Texas found itself down 9 in the latter stages of the game. Just as the Longhorns have done many times this season, they clawed back — but not all the way.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor then sliced and diced his way into the lane, cutting the deficit to 2 with plenty of time left.

Then he double-dribbled. Junior forward Connor Lammert missed the front end of a one-and-one. Taylor fouled Butler senior guard Alex Barlow, an 83 percent free-throw shooter.

“Plays like that at the end of the game — it pretty much sums up our year, to be quite honest,” Barnes said.

The struggles started early for the Longhorns, who, for the majority of the first half, couldn’t have played any worse. They turned the ball over eight times. They jacked up 10 threes, which is exactly what Butler’s packed-in defense wanted Texas to do. Quickly, Texas was down double-digits.

Then the lone scholarship senior, Jonathan Holmes, decided he wasn’t quite ready to call it a career.  

He halted Butler’s run with a pair of threes and a steal-and-score, sparking Texas as the first half came to a close. All of a sudden, the Longhorns found themselves down just 2 at half after a 90 run.

They carried that over to the second half, even grabbing a 2-point lead. But the Texas offense then reared its ugly head at the wrong time. It missed 11 straight shots and let Butler take control.

Butler was able to pack in its defense against the bigger Texas team, limiting its number of post touches.

“Well, people question our shooting,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to pass the ball in the air. There’s just not a lot of space there.”

When Texas settled for the open shot, it didn’t end up well. Texas shot just 34 percent for the game and only 31.6 percent from deep.

“That’s where we got to get better as a team,” Barnes said. “We got to shoot the ball better. We need to be able to stretch people out there more, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Even with their poor shooting, the Longhorns still had a chance. The Bulldogs shot only 33.3 percent, but they knocked down 20 of their 28 free throws to add that extra bit of scoring Texas couldn’t find.

Holmes led the way for Texas with 15. Taylor added 14. Butler junior guard Kellen Dunham finished with a game-high 20 points and was the only Bulldog in double digits.

Butler advances to play Notre Dame on Saturday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

All season long, I waited for Texas to take advantage of the size.

I’ve waited for them to consistently feed junior center Cameron Ridley and freshman forward Myles Turner. Ridley’s mass is unequaled. Turner’s height and skill unparalleled. Heck, even feed senior forward Jonathan Holmes the rock in the post as he can take advantage of the smaller defenders that constantly guard him.

But time after time, Texas has settled for the three where they are shooting a pedestrian 34 percent.

In the first game of the Big 12 championships in Kansas City, I finally got a glimpse of how effective and efficient this Longhorns offense could be when they look inside first. In a 15-minute stretch against Tech, Texas played the best ball it had all season—and it did so without attempting a three.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor attacked the rim for the dish or the score. Ridley created space and finished. Turner and Holmes also got plenty of touches.

All was going well. The bigs were happy. The guards were happy. Head coach Rick Barnes was happy. It looked like Texas finally figured it out.
Then they regressed right back into their old ways the very next game against Iowa State. They shot 22 threes. Ridley got just four shot attempts. Turner two. Holmes attempted just three from beneath the arc. The fact Texas was making their threes masked that Texas was once against not looking to pound it inside.

In the round of 64, though, Texas will be playing an undersized Butler team that rebounds extremely well. That means the Longhorns will need to force it inside. Ridley’s man will weigh 85 pounds less. Turner will have at least two inches on whomever guards him. Holmes will have a mismatch.
Those three will be the key. They have to want it. Ridley will have to work to create space (a pesky Butler team won’t let him get it easily). Turner has to want the ball and be ready to catch it. Holmes has to find his way inside rather than floating to the corner. That will result in high percentage looks.

If Texas can do that, it should be able to take advantage of its fortuitous draw against an undersized Bulldog team and live to see another day. If they settle for threes, the Horns will cap off an extremely disappointing season in a disappointing fashion.

Check out our additional March Madness coverage:

PreviewHere's what you need to know about Butler University basketball

Statistical Comparison: Texas and Butler are statistically similar, but with entirely different styles of play

Junior guard Kendal Yancy turned in 14 points, tying a career high, and freshman forward Myles Turner put up his second straight double-double. However, their big games were for naught as Texas blewa late-game lead to fall to No. 17 Oklahoma, 71–69.
Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

Jonathan Holmes was nervous leading up to Selection Sunday. As the lone scholarship senior, he didn’t want to finish his career in the NIT. Yet he knew that was an unfortunate possibility after Texas played its way onto the bubble.

He woke up at 5 a.m. and immediately began studying bubble teams. Later, watching the selection show with his teammates, he couldn’t sit still.

“You don't aspire to be in this position,” head coach Rick Barnes said.

But when Holmes saw Texas’ name appear on the screen as a No. 11 seed he sprinted out of the room, excited.

"I was definitely nervous,” sophomore guard Kendal Yancy said, expressing the same emotions. “Man, I did not want to be in the NIT.”

In the first region revealed on Selection Sunday, Texas found out that it was the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region. It will face off against the No. 6 seed Butler in Pittsburgh on Thursday. 

"I'm excited for our guys,” Rick Barnes said. “Really, I felt the big game was our game against Texas Tech."

That win against Tech helped Texas avoid that “bad loss” and gave Rick Barnes confidence his team would get a bid.

It wasn’t any particular game that got Texas in the tournament, however, according to Scott Barnes, the NCAA selection committee chairman. Instead, the committee examined Texas' entire body of work.

“Texas' strength of schedule made the difference,” Scott Barnes said on CBS.

And Rick Barnes agreed: “I think it’s the most important thing.”

Butler (2210, 126 Big East) is led by their two junior guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. Over the course of the regular season, Dunham shot 42 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 16.7 points per game. Jones, on the other hand, is an attacker. He didn’t take a 3-point shot all year and averaged 12.6 points per game.

If the Longhorns make it past Butler on Thursday, they will then face Saturday the winner of No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 14 Northeastern.  

The Midwest Region is highlighted by Kentucky as the No. 1 overall seed and Big 12 powerhouse Kansas as the 2-seed.

Texas players were quick to tweet their pleasures:

“All we needed was an opportunity man lets get it! #Hookem,” freshman forward Myles Turner tweeted.

“Let the games begin…#Horns” sophomore point Isaiah Taylor tweeted.

On Thursday, follow us on Twitter at @texansports as we live-tweet Texas' game against Butler. In the meantime, send us your thoughts about the bracket. Did you think Texas would make it to the Big Dance?

Junior forward Connor Lammert and Texas controlled most of the game against Kansas on Jan. 24, but ultimately fell short. Since then, the Longhorns have nearly fallen out of the NCAA tournament picture.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Boom. Boom. Pow.

In a span of 82 seconds late in the second half Saturday, senior forward Jonathan Holmes nailed a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions and sophomore guard Kendal Yancy found junior center Cam Ridley in transition for an and-1, alley-oop dunk.

The rapid 9–2 run stretched the Longhorns’ 2-point lead to 9 with under seven minutes remaining in the game to help guide the Longhorns to a much-needed 62–49 victory over Kansas State.

The impressive run was big for Holmes, who entered the game mired in one of the worst slumps of his career. He hadn’t scored more than 7 points in any of his previous seven games, connecting on just 10-of-42 shots over that stretch.

But in what was Senior Day at the Frank Erwin Center, Texas’ lone scholarship senior came up huge.

“It was great for him,” head coach Rick Barnes said.

Holmes finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds and a career-high four blocks. His 3-pointers earned loud cheers from the fans, and by the end of the Longhorns’ 82-second rally, the Erwin Center was louder than it had been all season long.

“That was a lot of fun,” Holmes said. “It’s pretty much all you can ask for your last game here. My teammates really picked up their game, and it made me really pick up my game. I love those guys for that.”

Before Holmes’ late outburst, Texas frontline’s defense kept the Longhorns in the game. Texas tied a school record with 14 blocks in the game, and it essentially took away the Wildcats’ ability to score in the paint for most of the first half.

The Wildcats missed 17 shots in the first half. 10 of those were blocked. In addition to Holmes’ four blocks, Ridley and junior center Prince Ibeh each added three.

With the victory, the Longhorns improved to 19–12 on the season and 8–10 in conference play. They enter next week’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, on the bubble for a spot in the NCAA tournament. After two consecutive victories to end the regular season, they are in much better shape than they were a week ago.

Texas now has the chance to improve its résumé even further at the conference tournament, in which it will take on Texas Tech in the first round Wednesday. Barnes chose not to speculate on whether his team has done enough to earn a spot in the Big Dance.

“Are we good enough to be [in]? Absolutely,” Barnes said. “We still got games out in front of us. If we’ve done enough to be in it, we’ll be in it.”

“Right now, everybody’s feeling good about the last two games,” junior guard Demarcus Holland said. “We feel like everybody’s coming along. We still trust the system, and we still believe that we can win and play in the tournament.”

Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor and the Texas guards struggled with turnovers in Morgantown, West Virginia, as the Mountaineers used a full-court press. Taylor had four of the Longhorns’ 17 turnovers.
Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ tailspin continued Tuesday night after No. 20 West Virginia held on to its early big lead for a 71–64 victory. It’s the third loss in a row for a slumping Texas team — now 6–9 record in Big 12 play — that is confirming its status as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.

West Virginia (22–6, 10–5 Big 12) overwhelmed Texas’ ball handlers with a relentless full-court press that set the tone early. Using an 11-man-deep bench, the Mountaineers were able to keep the pressure on Texas’ thin corps of ball handlers and force them into 17 turnovers.

The constant pressure got the Mountaineers off to a blistering start, as it looked as if they were going to run the Longhorns out of Morgantown. They opened an 18-point first-half lead, converting turnovers into easy points and forcing their way into the paint against the Texas zone.

But Texas wasn’t going to give in that easily.

Sparked by sophomore guard Kendal Yancy’s corner three, Texas began the uphill battle. The Longhorns scored in four-straight possessions, cut the deficit to 10 and were right back in it. They took advantage of their low 15-shot first-half total, making 73 percent from the field.

But then frustration boiled over for struggling senior forward Jonathan Holmes. In the waning seconds of the first half, West Virginia forward Devin Williams set an illegal screen that went uncalled as he checked Holmes in the back. Holmes retaliated, swinging his elbow and catching Williams in the face. Holmes was given a flagrant two and ejected from the game as Texas entered halftime trailing by 11.

“I thought our effort was really good,” Huggins said after the first half. “I thought our patience was really good on offense.”

The start of the second half was a complete reverse of the first as Texas cut the double-digit halftime lead to two in a hurry. They began to beat the press and find easy buckets, forcing West Virginia into a 1-3-1 zone defense.

But that’s as close as Texas would get. West Virginia opened it back up quickly, going on a 13–2 run of their own. On multiple occasions, Texas cut into the lead, putting pressure on West Virginia, but, ultimately, the hill proved too steep to climb.

Junior guard Demarcus Holland came off the bench to lead Texas with 14 points, and sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor added 13 points and six assists. However, each committed four turnovers.

Coming off a 29-point performance, Yancy was a quiet 4-for-8 with 9 points.

The Longhorns’ path doesn’t get any easier either, as they go to the Phog for a road game against No. 8 Kansas on Saturday.

Senior forward Jonathan Holmes has struggled in the past three games after returning following a concussion.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

It was clear how frustrated senior forward Jonathan Holmes was with himself Saturday after his 2-point performance against No. 12 Iowa State. He stared straight down with his head in his hands as the media began to question him. His answers were short, soft, downtrodden and, at times, incomplete.

“I got to get better and improve and get back in rhythm,” Holmes, who has scored just 12 points in the month of February, said. “Stuff just is not going in right now. Just got to get back to the basics.”

Since going down with a concussion Feb. 4 against Oklahoma State, Holmes hasn’t been himself. In the three games since his return, he’s shot just 21 percent in significant time on the court, attempted just four free throws and has struggled from behind the arc shooting only 34 percent. 

Before his injury, Holmes was averaging 11.5 points per game in 27.1 minutes per game. Since returning, he’s averaged 26.3 minutes per game but has only scored 4 points per game. 

“I just talked to Jon and said, ‘you work too hard to not believe in yourself right now,’” head coach Rick Barnes said. “You hate it for him because he’s worked as hard as anybody we’ve ever had here.”

But the Holmes of late is different from the Holmes who led the Longhorns to win the Wounded Warriors 2k Classic in New York City back in November. That Jonathan Holmes was excited, confident and playing the best basketball of his career.

He scored 19 against Iowa. Then he followed that up with 21 points and 13 rebounds against Cal to take home the tournament MVP award. Holmes thought the team had solved all of their problems.

“Everyone bought in,” Holmes said after the tournament, giddy about the first time Texas won any kind of tournament in his tenure. “Everyone wanted to be a part of the solution. We want to build something special.”

But now, sitting at 6–8 in Big 12 play, Holmes and the Longhorns aren’t looking at a solution but at a new problem. Texas is sitting on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, with few signature wins.

“I know that everybody at this time of the year wants to talk about that,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter. People talk. I promise you, there are like 100 teams on the bubble.”

Texas’ top wins are a home win against then-ranked No. 23 West Virginia and a neutral site win against Iowa, who sits in seventh place in the Big Ten. These aren’t leaving many people impressed.

With only four games left, the Longhorns have to take themselves off the bubble and prove they belong in the NCAA Tournament. They will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, and Lawrence, Kansas, this week to face a pair of top-25 teams. Then they will close out the regular season against No. 19 Baylor and Kansas State at home before the Big 12 tournament. Winning two of those should be enough to get them in.

“We have some chances coming up the next couple of weeks to get some quality wins,” Holmes said.

But in order to do that, they will need their lone scholarship senior to return to form.

“Right now we need some leadership, obviously, and it should come from our older guys.” Barnes said. Your older guys this time of the year have to play.”

This final stretch begins Tuesday, when Texas will face No. 20 West Virginia at 6 p.m. in Morgantown. The game will air on ESPN2.

“We just have to find a way,” sophomore guard Kendal Yancy said. “I personally think we’ll figure it out. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have a quick turnaround against West Virginia so we can get another road win.”

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

For the second straight game, Texas spoiled a brilliant performance from sophomore guard Kendal Yancy.  

Saturday afternoon, Yancy poured in a career-high 29 points against No. 14 Iowa State — but behind an onslaught of Iowa State 3-pointers, Texas still managed to fall short in a crucial home contest, 85–77.

Texas (17–10, 6–8 Big 12), behind by a comfortable margin nearly the entirety of the second half, made a late run as it started fouling the Cyclones (20–6, 10–4 Big 12), sending them to the line for 29 free throws. Unfortunately for Texas, the late effort wasn’t enough.

“The last three minutes got into a foul shooting contest and watching Isaiah Taylor shoot layups,” Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Luckily, we made enough of ours.”

The Cyclones’ ability to pick apart the Texas zone was a defining element of the teams’ first matchup in late January, so this time around, head coach Rick Barnes showed a man-to-man look. The man defense kept Iowa State out of the lane, but the Cyclones felt at home from deep, where they lead the conference in 3-point percentage. Iowa State, led by sophomore guard Matt Thomas’ four makes, shot 57 percent from long range.

“We were finding guys on the outside, and they were knocking down open shots,” Cyclones senior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones said.

Although Texas dropped yet another crucial home conference game, Yancy’s recent play has been inspiring. Yancy connected on 6-of-9 from deep, was nearly perfect from the line and snared five rebounds. He did all this while committing just two turnovers. But playing so well in a game that resulted in a loss meant Yancy wasn’t in a celebratory mood after the game.

“It’s pretty tough,” Yancy said. “There’s not time to feel sorry for ourselves, but I feel sorry for my teammates because we played hard. We just got to stop this losing streak.”

In three of the last four games, and as senior forward Jonathan Holmes has continued to struggle, Yancy has been in double-figures and has become the Longhorns’ go-to man on the wing.

Since coming back from a concussion that sidelined him for two straight games, Holmes has been a nonfactor for a Texas team that needs him for this crucial part of the season. In Texas’ three games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Iowa State, Holmes scored just 12 points total on 4-of-19 shooting.

“I got to get better and improve and get back in rhythm,” Holmes said. “Stuff just is not going in right now; just got to get back to the basics.”

The matchup against Iowa State was sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor’s best game in conference play, according to Barnes. After playing the entire 40 minutes, Taylor ended with 23 points and seven assists. Most importantly, however, after turning the ball over four times in the first half, he had none the rest of the way.

“It’s hard to do what he did for 40 minutes,” Barnes said. “We need Javan [Felix] to help Isaiah, but he’s got to take care of the ball. We need Javan, Holmes and Cam [Ridley]. We need those guys. We really need those guys.”

Felix finished just 1-of-9 with two turnovers, while freshman forward Myles Turner and junior center Cam Ridley contributed for just 8 points combined from the post.

“I looked at Isaiah — dead tired,” Barnes said. “What it gets down to is that we need everybody. We need our post guys. It can’t just fall on [Isaiah]. Guys have to want the ball. Javan had a tough day, he really did.”

With just four conference games remaining, Barnes said he knows what Texas must do to get into the NCAA tournament.

“If you’re going to get there, you got to win,” Barnes said. “If we win, we’ll get there. If we don’t, we won’t.”

Junior guard Kendal Yancy turned in 14 points, tying a career high, and freshman forward Myles Turner put up his second straight double-double. However, their big games were for naught as Texas blewa late-game lead to fall to No. 17 Oklahoma, 71–69.
Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns had a chance to steal one in Norman, Oklahoma, on Tuesday night.

Big nights from sophomore guard Kendal Yancy and freshman forward Myles Turner had the Longhorns up 5 with 3:34 left. The offense was running smoothly, and the defense was playing hard. It looked as though Texas had No. 17 Oklahoma on the ropes in what could have been a huge conference road win for head coach Rick Barnes and company.

Then Oklahoma sophomore guard Jordan Woodard hit a three. Senior forward TaShawn Thomas followed with a three-point play. Woodard finished an acrobatic layup, and junior forward Ryan Spangler found himself free for a layup on a pick-and-roll.

And, just like that, Texas (17–9, 6–7 Big 12) let one slip right through its hands as Oklahoma escaped, 71–69.

“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Barnes said. “We’re close, but close doesn’t get it done.”

Yancy, who started his fourth straight game, hit big shots for the Longhorns and seems to be finding his confidence. Yancy tied his career high in points with 14 while bringing down six boards.

But with the game on the line and the Longhorns down 2 with just seconds left, it was senior forward Jonathan Holmes who took the big shot for the Longhorns and clanked a deep three from dead on.

Texas almost overcame its turnover problem and ran a smooth offense for most of the game. Oklahoma forced Texas into 13 turnovers, at times instilling a full-court press. The Sooners, on the other hand, took good care of the rock, committing only five turnovers. Texas, despite having athletic players across the board, currently sits last — by a large margin — in the conference in forced turnovers.

For weeks, Texas has been in the zone defense, but against Oklahoma and its plethora of shooters, Texas went back to a man defense. Until the end, the defense was strong, as it held Oklahoma to 36 percent shooting. Turner and junior center Prince Ibeh protected the rim, assisting in a team-record-tying 13 blocks.

After a slow start, Turner turned in his second straight double-double. He scored 17 points with 10 boards and six blocks.

“I feel more confident,” Turner said. “But I still feel like I need to get the ball in the post, that mid-range area.”

Junior guard Javan Felix was efficient with his shots today, as he was perfect from downtown to score 10 points on just six shots.

While Turner, Yancy and Felix turned in admirable performances in a tough road environment, Holmes and sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor disappointed. Holmes was 1-of-6 from deep, with the one being a meaningless, open shot at the buzzer. Taylor was 1-of-10 from the field and disappeared late in the game.

“We just put so much pressure on [Taylor] to do good things,” Yancy said. “On this bus ride home, I’m going to check on him.”

As a team, Texas struggled yet again from long range, connecting on just 8-of-23. Inside the arc, however, Texas shot 50 percent.

With a win Wednesday night against TCU, head coach Rick Barnes would become the 13th active coach with 600 wins. As Texas keeps sliding in the rankings, this one has also become a must-win.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

When unranked Texas hosts TCU on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Head coach Rick Barnes will be vying for his 600th victory. Senior forward Jonathan Holmes’ and junior guard Javan Felix’s availability to play will be a game-time decision after both missed Saturday’s contest with concussions. And from the team’s perspective, this is a must-win after playing their way onto the bubble of an NCAA tournament bid.

Texas (15–8, 4–6 Big 12) currently sits in eighth place in conference and will play the only two teams below them in the standings over the course of this week. They take on TCU (14–9, 1–9 Big 12) on Wednesday and Texas Tech (12–12, 2–9 Big 12) on Saturday, both at home and in games they need to win. After being ranked in the first 13 polls of the season polls of the seasons as high as No. 6, the Longhorns will play their first game as an unranked team.

Felix, who has missed the last two games with a concussion, and Holmes, who missed his first game of the season Saturday against Kansas State with the same injury, have not yet been cleared for the game. Felix has been cleared to practice, and, unless he shows any symptoms, will be cleared to play. Holmes has not been cleared for contact yet. 

Even while battling adversity, Texas was able to pull off a crucial 61–57 road win against Kansas State on Saturday to curb a four-game skid.

“Think about what we have dealt with this year,” head coach Rick Barnes said after the win at Kansas State. “We lost Isaiah [Taylor], Jon and Javan, not to mention the number of days in practice when we had to play with eight guys, nine guys.”

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber referenced Texas’ thin bench after the game.

“They played Jordan Barnett, who had not played much,” Weber said. “He did not get much done, but they used everyone.”

Texas was able to slow down Kansas State using a zone defense, and it doesn’t appear Barnes will be going back to man defense anytime soon.

“We are a long team. Our zone has been good,” Barnes said Saturday. “We have won four conference games, and we played zone every minute of those games with the exception of the last two minutes here today. Length is an important part about it, and it is just a big zone.”

If Texas beats TCU, then Barnes will become the 13th active NCAA Division I men’s coach to reach the 600-win milestone. In 28 seasons, which included stops at George Mason, Providence and Clemson, he currently owns a 599–308 record.

The game will be aired on the Longhorn Network.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points in Saturday’s win over Kansas State. With the win, Texas ends its four-game losing streak and improves to 15-8 on the season.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

With senior forward Jonathan Holmes and junior guard Javan Felix both out with concussions, No. 25 Texas desperately needed someone to step up offensively in its game against Kansas State Saturday.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor did just that, turning in one his best performances of the season to lead Texas to a 61–57 road victory over Kansas State and breaking the Longhorns’ four-game losing streak.

Taylor made a living near the basket, connecting on a series of layups and short jumpers on his way to a game-high 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Even when he wasn’t finishing from the field, Taylor succeeded in drawing foul after foul to get to the free throw line, where he went 11-of-15.

With 1:15 remaining in the game, the Longhorns led 57–50, but Kansas State tightened its deficit to two with under 30 seconds remaining behind a quick 7–2 run. Taylor missed two free throws with 0:25 remaining to give the Wildcats a final chance to tie or win the game, but senior forward Thomas Gipson couldn’t finish his late layup attempt, and Taylor redeemed himself with a pair of free throws to end the contest.

Given the temporary loss of Holmes and Felix, who had combined for 49 percent of the Longhorns’ 3-point makes coming into the game, Texas had to change its offensive approach. Instead of relying on shots from beyond the arc, as they had unsuccessfully done in recent contests, the Longhorns focused on getting shots near the basket.

Taylor was at the forefront of this offensive game plan, and he consistently weaved his way into the paint to get easy looks or draw fouls. Texas did an especially strong job of dominating inside in the first half, outscoring the Wildcats 14–2 in the paint before halftime. The Longhorns finished the game with a combination of eight dunks, layups and tip-ins.

Junior forward Connor Lammert and junior center Prince Ibeh both played major roles in the Texas victory. Lammert led the Longhorns with nine rebounds and went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc on his way to 12 points, and Ibeh contested shots near the basket all game and tied his season high with four blocks.

Behind Ibeh, Texas played far better on defense than it had during its four-game losing streak. In those four games, the Longhorns’ previously stout defense surrendered an eye-popping average of 78 points per game. On Saturday, the Wildcats struggled to find a rhythm against the Texas zone, shooting 31.9 percent while making just seven shots inside the 3-point arc.

With their victory, the Longhorns’ record improved to 15–8 on the season and 4–6 in conference play. They have a chance to continue making up ground in the Big 12 standings in the upcoming week, as they have a very winnable pair of home games coming up — against TCU on Wednesday and Texas Tech on Saturday.