For nearly all of Rick Barnes’ 14 seasons as basketball coach at Texas success was the norm, but this year something has gone drastically wrong. After nearly three weeks of Big 12 play, the Longhorns are still looking for their first conference win.
“We do a lot of things well, but we don’t win because we don’t consistently do it when the game is on the line,” Barnes told reporters after the Longhorns lost to Kansas on Saturday.
Texas’ overall record of 8-10 is shocking when taken in the context of the past success of the program. The Longhorns have made 13 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and have won at least 20 games in each of the past 12 seasons. That those streaks would come to an end isn’t surprising, all streaks end. It’s the manner in which it’s happening that’s amazing. If not for the fact that TCU has played one more conference game than Texas, the Longhorns would be at the bottom of the standings.
The Longhorns and their fans probably could see a long year coming with the protracted issue of Myck Kabongo and his eligibility issues. The NCAA has kept him off the floor for the entire season so far, and his suspension will keep him on the sidelines until Texas hosts Iowa State on February 13th.
Add in an broken hand suffered by Texas’ leading rebounder Jonathan Holmes and the hopes for a second half surge may have to be put off for a few more weeks.
To soften the blow, four of Texas’ losses have come to the top 5 teams in the Big 12. Of course, Texas is used to being in that group so the fact that the Longhorns haven’t beaten any of them is telling as to where this team is right now. But if Texas gets everyone back and in game shape by the Big 12 Tournament, stranger things have happened.
Texas gets its next chance to climb back into the win column Saturday when Texas Tech comes to Austin. The Red Raiders have had their own well publicized problems heading into this season and will provide Texas with its best chance at getting a conference win this year.