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Senior forward Jonathan Holmes started the year as the go-to scorer but has fallen off the past couple of weeks. This inconsistency has been the theme for Texas this year.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. That’s all Rick Barnes wants heading into tournament play.

However, his team is riddled with inconsistency.

Senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who was the most consistent Longhorn, just turned in a disaster of a month. Junior center Cam Ridley seems to pick and choose when he shows up to play. 

Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor goes from 40 minutes one night to 15 minutes three games later because of his poor defensive effort. Freshman forward Myles Turner plays like the Big 12 Freshman of the Year some nights and then like a true freshman the others. Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy transformed from passive role player to slick-shooter overnight. 

And Barnes has no idea which one of his players will show up on any night, leaving him frustrated.

“We need Jon Holmes. We need Cam Ridley. We need Javan [Felix],” said Barnes, frustrated after the Iowa State game at home.

Only junior guard Demarcus Holland “has been as steady as a rock all year.”

Holland locks down defensively each and every night; he hustles after loose balls, and his shots result in a 49 percent clip from deep to lead the team.

“I embrace my role,” Holland said before the season. “If it takes me guarding the best player, I’ll do it. If I have to rebound, I’ll do it.”

Now, Barnes just needs to get the rest of his players to embrace their roles.

“All we are simply trying to do is to get each guy to do what he does best,” Barnes said Monday morning in a teleconference. “If we can get the consistency of that, we feel good about where we are at.”

Texas has as much talent in the Big 12 as anyone, yet, because of its inconsistency, the team enters Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Wednesday as the No. 7 seed and on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.

Just look at the top of the Big 12 standings to see what consistency can do. Junior forward Perry Ellis has been leading No. 1 seed Kansas, and junior point forward Georges Niang heads No. 2 Iowa State. Junior guard Buddy Hield guides No. 3 Oklahoma. Junior forward Rico Gathers leads No. 4 Baylor, and senior guard Juwan Staten is a veteran for No. 5 West Virginia.

Those players — who also make up the All-Big 12 First Team — have been as consistent as any in the nation all season. Game in and game out, those teams know what they are going to get out of their stars.

With its NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Texas is going to need everyone to make a difference. The Longhorns start off against No. 10 Texas Tech in Kansas City, Missouri at 8 p.m. Wednesday. A loss could end their tournament dream. A win would help them avoid disaster and keep their tournament résumé void of that bad loss.

“We’ve got another game right now with Texas Tech,” Barnes said. “We got to go play. This is as big a game as we’ve played all year.”

A win against Tech would pit them against No. 2 Iowa State in a quarterfinal matchup Thursday night.  

“We’re never going to feel like we’ve done enough,” Holland said. “We got to take care of our next couple games.”

Texas put their offensive woes in the rearview mirror as they pummeled Lipscomb 106-61 Tuesday night at the Erwin Center.

“The fact is we moved the ball,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s what we haven’t been doing. Ball movement is hard to defend if you can throw the hard, crisp passes.”

After a lousy offensive performance by Texas Saturday against Texas State, the Longhorns came back with, arguably, their best. With sophomore guard Demarcus Holland running the point, the offense was smooth, crisp, quick and shooting the open shots with confidence—something that hasn’t been done since Isaiah Taylor went down a few weeks ago.

They recorded season highs in points, three point field goal percentage (53%) and assists (24), all while committing a season-low nine turnovers.

“[Coach Barnes] emphasized us not playing scared,” Holland said. “He emphasized that we need to trust the offense, trust the coach and just go out there and try. We don’t like to be scared. This program is built on toughness.”

Standout freshman Myles Turner led the way with a career-high 26 points to go along with nine boards and six blocks.  In the first half alone, Turner was on pace for a triple-double with 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks before he rested most of the second half as Texas opened up a large lead.

It wasn’t just Turner, though, as the entire Texas team was rolling. Everyone on the roster scored—including the five walk-ons.

 “Anytime the whole entire team scores, it’s a great night,” Turner said. “It creates great vibes.”

Holland had nine points and a career-high eight assists. Kendal Yancy, in his second straight start, also set a career-high in assists with seven. Senior forward Jonathan Holmes added 17 points while freshman Jordan Barnett had his best game of his young career tallying 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from downtown (he was 1-of-12 coming into the game).

While the offense was clicking, the defense showed some vulnerability (not much, but some). The Longhorns, who pride themselves, on the defensive end, came into the game fifth in the nation, allowing just 50.9 points per contest. But Lipscomb was able to crack 60—the first team to hit that mark against Texas’ length this year.   

Just hours before tip-off, sophomore guard Damarcus Croaker announced he was transferring from the school and was given an unconditional release from his scholarship.

“Damarcus has been a great teammate,” Barnes said. “The role he plays is difficult. He wants to play. We didn’t want him to leave.”


Junior guard Demarcus Holland shut down UConn senior guard Ryan Boatright at game’s end to help Texas finish with a 55-54 advantage.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Down 54-52 to No. 24 UConn with 4.4 seconds left, basketball head coach Rick Barnes drew up a familiar play. Coming off a back screen, senior forward Jonathan Holmes found himself wide open in the corner near the Texas bench. Despite leaning too far forward, Holmes swished the corner three, stunning the Huskies 55-54 in Storrs, Connecticut.

“I was kind of off balance and kind of fell forward, but it went in,” said Holmes, whose is now being called ‘Johnny Basketball’ by his teammates.

Up to that point, Holmes was struggling. He was just 3-of-12 from the field after opening the game shooting at a nearly 60 percent clip. But, with the game on the line, Barnes called his number.

The play was nearly a carbon copy of the buzzer-beater that knocked off Kansas State last season. Both plays featured Holmes coming off a back screen for a corner three in front of the Texas bench to win the game. And both times, Holmes sunk the shot.

No. 7 Texas (6-0) found itself down late in the game after struggling offensively in the second half.

The Longhorns took a 6-point lead to the break behind a strong first half from junior guard Demarcus Holland. Holland scored all 10 of his points in the first half, as he sliced and diced his way to the rim and finished early.

The second half, though, was a different story. The UConn defense clamped down, senior guard Ryan Boatright took over and the UConn fans got loud.At the 10:46 mark, a Boatright layup put UConn up 43-42: its first lead since 4-3. The Huskies expanded that lead to 6 before Texas made its move.

A pair of clutch free throws from freshman forward Myles Turner and sophomore guard Kendal Yancy cut the lead to 1. After a pair of Boatright free throws put UConn up by 3, junior point guard Javan Felix hit a high-arching layup with 21 seconds left. Boatright then split a pair from the line — setting the stage for Holmes’ theatrics.

Boatright ended with 24 points to lead all scorers, while Holmes led Texas with 13. Holmes also led all rebounders with eight.

Barnes elected to put Felix on Boatright, who is the Huskies’ go-to man, from the beginning. As Boatright began to get hot and find his stroke halfway through the second half, Barnes switched his lineup so that Holland, his best defender, would match Boatright.

Holland face-guarded Boatright at all times, limiting him to just 2 non-free-throw points and keeping the ball out of his hands in the final minutes. UConn sophomore guard Sam Cassell Jr. found himself taking the shots at the end of the game and missing both.


“Today, the big picture is: We found a way,” Barnes said.

Felix recorded 10 points and four assists, as he filled in for the injured sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor as the starting point guard. Turner finished with 7 points, five rebounds and five blocks — coming up with some huge defensive stops late in the game.

Former Texas star Jordan Hamilton’s younger brother, Daniel, notched 13 points for the Huskies (3-2).Texas returns home Tuesday to take on UT-Arlington.

Brazil vs. Germany – Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. CT

No Neymar and no Thiago Silva. What will this mean for a Brazilian team that is making its 10th World Cup semifinals appearance? Brazil has yet to show their best, having made it to this point without any decisive victories. But perhaps that is where they find their peace going into Tuesday’s game against Germany. They know they can do better, which should be quite frightening for the opposing team. Replacing two of the most important players will be tough, but Brazil also has history on its side. The country has not lost a competitive match at home since 1975. And as shaky as they’ve been, they’ll need every ounce of advantage that they can get. Germany plays organized and disciplined, a style of play that has frustrated Brazil all of this World Cup. With a hard defensive line, Germany beats opponents by neutralizing attacks and striking when the opportunity presents itself. Players like Thomas Müller have been creating plays for the German side all tournament long. If Brazil hopes to reach its 7th World Cup final, scoring early, just as they did against Colombia in the quarterfinals, will be vital. The last time these two powerhouses met on such a grand stage was in 2002, when Brazil beat Germany 2-0 to win the World Cup.


The Netherlands vs. Argentina – Wednesday, July 9 at 3 p.m. CT

Through superstar Lionel Messi, Argentina is as close to winning the World Cup as it’s been since the days of the great Diego Maradona. The team has looked steady and Messi has been living up to his famed name. The country has yet to lose a match this World Cup, seeming to somehow always find a way to win. On the opposing side is the 2010 World Cup runner-up Netherlands, which has appeared to be the team of destiny so far. While they too have not lost a match this tournament, they have beaten opponents in nail-biting fashion, as they did in the penalty shoot-out victory over Costa Rica. Argentina has not made a semifinal appearance since 1990, and historically, they have only beaten the Dutch once. The Netherlands have the better numbers in both shooting and scoring for this tournament, with forwards Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie each having scored three goals so far. But they also do not have a player like Messi. Nothing will be as important for this Netherlands team as keeping the Argentinian striker at bay. Messi has the second most goals in the tournament with four, but has also constantly created scoring for teammates, which is where the true danger lies. The Dutch will need to disrupt Argentina’s world class passing attack. A more wide-open type of match can be expected from this second semifinal, and based on how both teams have played; a penalty shoot-out would not be surprising. 

Sophomore guard Javan Felix is defended by Melvin Ejim during Texas' matchup against the Cyclones last month. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

On Saturday night, the Longhorns found a way to slow down the Big 12’s second leading scorer, Juwan Staten, en route to a victory over West Virginia. Three days later, they’ll have to stop the only man ahead of Staten if they want the same result.

Senior forward Melvin Ejim — who averages a conference-best 18.9 points per game — and his No. 17 Iowa State Cyclones welcome No. 19 Texas to Ames for a top-25 matchup at Hilton Coliseum tonight.

“[Ejim’s] a scary guy,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “He’s put up some unbelievable numbers. He’s been one of those guys that has had an incredible impact on their program.”

Unlike Staten, a true point guard who was defended by Javan Felix and Isaiah Taylor, Ejim plays on the wing and will likely be guarded by Texas’ defensive specialist, Demarcus Holland. Holland’s athleticism and deceptive length should help slow down Ejim, who can score from anywhere on the floor.

Ejim was effective in Iowa State’s 86-76 loss at the Frank Erwin Center last month. The Canadian player had a double-double with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting and 10 rebounds.

But the Longhorns’ team defense has improved significantly since the last time these two teams met, and, if Texas’ most recent performance is any indication, Ejim could be in for a long night.

“Our defense has been the most improved aspect of our game,” Barnes said. “We’ve stopped fouling as much. We still have some things to work on, but it’s getting better.”

Offensively, the Longhorns will once again rely on their size and strength inside to overwhelm Iowa State’s undersized front court. Junior forward Jonathan Holmes and sophomore center Cameron Ridley combined for 39 points and seven offensive boards in the first meeting. Those two, combined with Holland’s defensive work ethic, have been the key to the Longhorns’ rebounding success.

“The length has a lot to do with [the rebounding],” Barnes said. “You’ve also got two guys — in Jonathan Holmes and Demarcus Holland — who put in tremendous effort. That kind of effort is what gets us the extra possessions that we need.”

Texas has needed a late second-half comeback to secure the majority of its wins this year. Five times in seven contests the Longhorns have trailed in the final seven minutes of a game – winning four of those times.

After the third of those narrow victories, sophomore forward Connor Lammert offered a simple theory as to why Texas has been so successful in late-game situations.

“You see the lineup we have out there when we finish the game and it’s most of the guys that have returned,” Lammert said after a 72-62 triumph over Stephen F. Austin last month. “We’ve finished well with that lineup on the court. Last four minutes, we were really able to hold onto the ball, make free throws, execute and get stops and rebounds. I think that’s what we’ve done well better than anything.”

Over the final eight minutes of that game, Texas used only six players – Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Demarcus Holland, Isaiah Taylor, Cameron Ridley and Lammert – five of whom were among the six scholarship players that returned from last year’s 16-18 team, Taylor being the lone freshman. 

Trailing by four at the 8:00 mark, 54-50, the Longhorns ended the game on a 22-8 run to win the game by 10 points. It’s how Texas has been winning most of its games this year.

Four underclassmen – Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Ioannis Papapetrou and Sheldon McClellan – all left the program after last season for various reasons. Kabongo, Papapetrou and McClellan were the Longhorns’ three leading scorers a year ago. Losing them was a big reason why Texas was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 this season.

Not only were the Longhorns bad in 2012, they were supposed to be worse in 2013.

But those members of the worst Rick Barnes-led team at Texas who came back this year have led the Longhorns to a 6-1 start. Tough non-conference games remain against squads like Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Michigan State. But the Longhorns have shown they can be much improved since last year.

A closer look at Texas’ first seven games shows that are getting plenty out of its perseverant returners but that one newcomer, in particular, has made his presence felt. He doesn’t lead the team in any major conventional category but he does come out on top when you look at plus-minus (how many more or less points the Longhorns score than their opponent when he’s on the floor).

It’s that lone newcomer in the six-man rotation – Isaiah Taylor – who leads Texas in plus-minus at +74. The Longhorns are -9 when he’s not on the floor, making him one of two players on the team who Texas has been outscored by its opponents when he’s not on the floor, the other being Holland.

Not surprisingly, Taylor also leads the Longhorns in +/- per 40 minutes at +16.5. Jonathan Holmes (+13.6) and Holland (+12.1) are the only others in double digits in this category.

The single-best plus-minus performance of the year, however, doesn’t belong to Taylor but to Holmes, who was +35 in the aforementioned victory over a solid Stephen F. Austin team who won 27 games last season. Holmes was an incredible +24 in the second half and Texas was -25 in that game when he wasn’t on the floor.

Here are the five best individual plus-minus outings this year:

And here are the five worst individual plus-minus games. As expected, most of them came in the Longhorns’ only defeat so far this year, a 86-82 loss to BYU in Kansas City on Nov. 25.

Texas’ starting lineup hasn’t changed much this year. Four players – Holland, Taylor, Ridley and Holmes – have started every game they’ve played in so far. But there is one move Barnes has stuck with. He’s made a sixth man of sorts out of Felix, who has recently become the first man off the bench instead of a mainstay in the starting lineup.

Has it paid off? The numbers say no. In Felix’s three starts, he was +14 but in the last four games he hasn’t started, Felix is -10, including a -15 showing against BYU. Even if you treat that performance as an anomaly and only look at Texas’ six wins so far, Felix has still been better as a starter. He’s +14 in Texas’ three wins he’s started in and +5 in the team’s three victories he hasn’t started in.

Here is a complete breakdown of how each player has done as a starter and how they’ve done coming off the bench.

Of those six scholarship players who returned from last year’s team, only sophomore forward Prince Ibeh was not included in that effective late-game six-man rotation. But, as this table shows, Ibeh has saved his best basketball for the close games this year.

In games decided by fewer than 10 points, Ibeh has notched a +14, including a +12 in just 16 minutes of an 84-77 win over South Alabama in the Longhorns’ second game of the season. On the other hand, Ibeh is -8 in games decided by at least 10 points.

Utrecht Centraal Station

A woman paces the Utrecht Centraal Station platform as she waits for the next train in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Jonathan Holmes (10), shown lifting a shot over West Vriginia’s Kevin Noreen, broke a bone in his right hand against Oklahoma Jan. 21. Holmes could return to action Wednesday against 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The last time the Longhorns’ basketball team won back-to-back games our calendars still read 2012. Yep, that is the kind of year Texas has had since the season began back in November. With little success up to this point and decreasingly less to play for, the excuses for the Longhorns to give up on what seems like a lost season are mounting. However, for the first time in a long time, there is a glimmer of hope in this Texas team. With point guard Myck Kabongo coming off of a 23-game suspension, forward Jonathan Holmes close to returning from a hand injury, and freshman DeMarcus Holland newly anointed as a starter, coach Rick Barnes will finally have some tools to work with.  For the first time in what seems like forever, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Will Kabongo and Holmes be rusty? Surely. Can we expect Texas to go on a miracle run and sweep the rest of their Big 12 games? Of course not. However, in a season riddled with frustration and embarrassment, things are finally looking up, and that should not be ignored. On that note, here is a statistical look at some areas in which Kabongo, Holmes, and Holland’s presence should be felt immediately: 

13 points scored by DeMarcus Holland in Texas’ 72-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday in what was the best game of his short career. Saturday marked the first time Holland topped 30 minutes of playing time in a single game, a trend that should continue now that he has been named a starter. If Holland can continue to put up points and provide Rick Barnes another scoring threat, Texas will instantly become a deeper, more versatile team.

 11.7 assists per game for the Longhorns this year, good for 253rd in the nation. Although freshman Javan Felix has filled in admirably for Kabongo during his suspension with 5.5 assists per game, adding an additional ball-handler and NBA-caliber talent in Kabongo will give this point-starved Texas offense a much needed spark. 

7.1 rebounds per game for Jonathan Holmes this year before he suffered an injury to his hand against Oklahoma. Considering no other Longhorn is averaging even five boards a game, it is clear Holmes is Texas’ best big man. He should instill a physical element that this team has sorely missed since he went out three weeks ago.

 Zero: The number of victories the Longhorns have on the road this season. Considering four of their nine remaining Big 12 games will be played away from the Erwin Center, including three against teams currently ranked in the Top 25, it will be tough sledding from here on out for this struggling Texas team. If they want to avoid becoming the first team without a road victory in the Rick Barnes-era at Texas, the Longhorns will need to see strong performances from Kabongo, Holmes and Holland from here on out.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix announced Monday that she is ending her reign after 33 years and passing the crown to her eldest son, who has long been groomed to be king but who will have to work hard to match his mother’s popularity.

The widely expected abdication comes at a time of debate over the future of the largely ceremonial Dutch monarchy, but also as calm has descended upon the Netherlands after a decade of turmoil that saw Beatrix act as the glue that held together an increasingly divided society.

The queen, who turns 75 in a few days, said she will step down from the throne on April 30.

First Half:

Thanks in large part to freshmen Cameron Ridley and Demarcus Holland, Texas took over this game in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Texas Tech held a one-point lead at the 11:30 mark, but Holland scored five of his nine first-half points during a 9-0 Longhorns run toward the end of the half. After committing a turnover on Texas’ last possession before halftime, he raced down to the other end of the floor and blocked a Red Raiders attempt at a buzzer-beater. Ridley scored six points in the opening half, along with nine rebounds and three blocks. Texas led 35-24 at the break.

Second Half:

The Longhorns didn’t dominate the second half like they did the first, but they didn’t blow a late second-half lead like they did against UCLA, West Virginia and Kansas. Texas held a double-digit lead for all but 21 seconds after halftime as Ioannis Papapetrou and Julien Lewis each scored 10 points in the second half. After the Red Raiders trimmed the Longhorns’ lead to eight points, Texas went on a 9-1 run to put the game away.

Stock Up:

Demarcus Holland - After Javan Felix picked up a couple of early fouls, Holland was forced to step up. He did just that, scoring a career-high 11 points after scoring only 10 combined points in his previous five games. Holland also notched three steals in 26 minutes, which tied a career high.

Stock Down:

Javan Felix - The freshman point guard was in foul trouble early and was held scoreless for the second time this year. The first time Felix was held scoreless was in a win over Coppin State, just his second career game. He had nine assists in that game but had only four Saturday, although he’s still averaging a Big 12-best 5.9 dimes per game this year. Felix has scored 25 points since dropping 26 points on Baylor during an overtime loss in Texas’ Big 12 opener earlier this month.

By the Numbers:

29: Number of days between Texas’ last two wins. The Longhorns beat Rice, 57-41, on Dec. 29 in their last game before Big 12 play, which kicked off a five-game losing streak they snapped in Saturday’s victory over the Red Raiders.

19: Number of turnovers Texas forced. The Longhorns turned those into 21 points, a much-needed boost to a struggling offense. Texas committed just 10 turnovers, well below its Big 12-worst average of 15.8 per game.

What’s Next:

Texas (9-10, 1-5) travels to Manhattan to face Kansas State (15-4, 4-2) on Wednesday. The Longhorns have not won at Bramlage Coliseum, nicknamed the “Octagon of Doom”, since 2008. The game will start at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.