The Texas Longhorns got off to a mediocre start to the season. The Longhorns managed a 9-1 record through their first ten games, but had not beaten any ranked teams and did not look like a team that would challenge for the Big 12 title. That all changed after Texas defeated then-no. 14 North Carolina 86-83 in Chapel Hill. After that victory, analysts and fans around the country took notice.
The Longhorns finished out non-conference play with an 11-2 record heading into their conference schedule. However, even though the nation took notice of this Longhorn team, reality seemed to set in during the first few games of conference play. Texas fell at home to Oklahoma by a score of 88-85 in their conference opener. After that, they lost back to back games for the first time this season with an 87-74 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State. After a disappointing 0-2 start in Big 12 play, the chances for Texas to contend for the Big 12 title looked very slim.
Even after the dismal start, Texas recently rattled off five straight wins in conference. Three of those five wins have come against ranked opponents. Perhaps their biggest test is coming against Kansas. Should the Longhorns beat the Jayhawks, they would inch even closer to the possibility of a Big 12 regular season title. Texas currently sits in a tie for second in the conference behind Kansas who is undefeated.
The Longhorns should attribute their success to the rapid improvement of Texas sophomores: Javan Felix, Cameron Ridley, Demarcus Holland, Connor Lammert, and Prince Ibeh. Those sophomores account for more than 40 points per game for Texas. Cameron Ridley also is in the top five in the conference in most blocks and rebounds per game. Also for the Longhorns is their leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Jonathan Holmes, averaging 12.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor, currently averaging 11.7 points per game, is also a key component to the Longhorns’ success.
The Texas Longhorns (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) have a big matchup against Kansas on Saturday as they try to extend their conference win streak to six games. If the Longhorns can finish atop the Big 12, it would be their first regular season conference championship since 2008.
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