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.