Erwin Center

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.”

 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The Frank Erwin Center has hosted stars ranging from Kevin Durant to Paul McCartney, but, after serving Austin as a major event hub for the past 37 years, the site’s future residents will tend to patients instead of sinking baskets or belting anthems.

The Erwin Center and the adjacent Denton A. Cooley Pavilion site on Red River Street, located across from the School of Nursing, will be relocated in the next 6-15 years to make room for the new Dell Medical School.

In May of last year, the UT System Board of Regents approved the building plans for the medical school, which will accept its first class in 2016. According to the Medical District Master Plan, a teaching hospital will sit on the lot currently occupied by the Erwin Center. The medical school construction project is projected to cost $334.5 million. 

Although the medical school is the reason the Erwin Center will be demolished, the 37-year-old center suffers from the natural deterioration associated with buildings its age, including leaks, according to building manager John Graham. Eleven years ago, the Erwin Center underwent a $55 million renovation to modernize the facility, which included the addition of 28 new suites and an electronic scoreboard. 

Aside from issues of old age, the Erwin Center also lacks key attributes that would keep it in line with modern facilities. The lack of surface parking and a single loading dock make it difficult to accommodate modern shows with extravagant sets and multiple 18-weelers worth of material. Erwin Center visitors may also experience heavy traffic because of its proximity to I-35. 

These issues factored heavily into the projections for relocation of the Erwin Center made in both the 2013 Campus Master Plan and the subsequent Dell Medical School Master Plan, according to architecture professor Lawrence Speck, who participated in both planning efforts.

“When a building gets to be that old, you have to invest a whole lot of money in upgrading it, or you have to think of replacing it,” Speck said. “Do you spend a whole lot of money — and it will [take] a whole lot of money — to bring it back up to high performance standards? Or do you think that money might be better invested in a new facility?”

The University has not conducted a study to estimate the cost of restoring the Erwin Center to a competitive level for modern events, but Rhonda Weldon, University Operations director of communication, said “millions would not be a surprising figure.” According to Weldon, there is “a rather large ballpark” for potential rehabilitation costs. 

Rumors abound concerning potential new locations, but the two most likely candidates at this point appear to be land owned by the University on the east side of I-35 and the Austin American-Statesman’s lot across from Lady Bird Lake, according to multiple reports including an article in the Statesman last week. 

Both sites come with their own share of problems. The land the University owns along Manor Road would have many of the same issues the Erwin Center currently experiences because of traffic on the highway’s feeder road. 

The Statesman and the Texas Department of Transportation currently occupy the lot on South Congress, and both entities would have to agree to sell the property. The lot does meet many of the school’s requirements for the space: It’s reasonably close to campus, near a vibrant downtown area and adjacent to I-35.

Texas men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes, whose team plays its home games in the Erwin Center, said he looks forward to a new arena, which he thinks will boost fan attendance. Texas ranked 32nd nationally in home-game attendance in 2013 — averaging 10,495 fans a game, well below the arena’s capacity at 16,755.  

“I’m excited for the future of this program when we build a new [arena],” Barnes said. “We know a building this size should have half the size its surface parking. The minimum would be 5,000. We’ve got less than 500.”

Texas head men’s athletic director Steve Patterson declined to comment. 

Crowd noise is limited in the arena because of the distance between fans and the court. The fans are far away from the floor at the Erwin Center, which limits the crowd noise in the arena. Many of the loudest venues in college basketball, such as Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, have similar seating capacities as the Erwin Center but are smaller facilities, able to trap noise.

Some members of the basketball team say a new arena could be beneficial. 

“I’d like the fans to be closer, so they can be more into the game,” sophomore center Prince Ibeh said. “It’s more spaced out in the Erwin Center, and [the lack of noise] makes it tough to get into the game.”

But there are needs other than basketball to consider, according to Matthew Payne, Austin Sports Commission executive director. The Erwin Center has served community purposes for nearly four decades, hosting huge music acts, high school state championships and UT commencement ceremonies.

Payne says the community requires a dynamic multipurpose facility such as the Erwin Center to host large-scale events. Austin has hosted international and national events before, sporting and otherwise, and Payne said he hopes it remains that way. 

“I think it needs to be close to downtown,” Payne said. “It truly needs to be a community facility, along with taking care of the needs to the University. The Erwin Center has been a great facility for a long time, so I’m sure they’ll get it right.” 

Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) gets past Kansas State guard Shane Southwell to put up a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22 in Manhattan, Kan.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Fresh off their first conference victory, the Longhorns head to Manhattan, Kansas to face the Kansas State Wildcats. Although Kansas State is ranked No. 18 in the latest Associated Press college basketball polls, the Longhorns seem to be catching them at the perfect time, as the Wildcats have lost two straight Big 12 games after winning their first four. However, K-State’s Fred Bramlage Coliseum, also known as “The Octagon of Doom,” is always a tough place for visiting teams. The Wildcats are returning to “The Octagon” for the first time since suffering their only home loss of the season, a 55-59 loss to Kansas, and will be looking to end their current losing streak and defend home court. Without a doubt, the big question in this matchup is how will this young Texas team, in search of its second straight Big 12 victory, handle the pressures of playing in a hostile environment? Here are some statistics that should paint a clear picture of what the Longhorns will be up against Wednesday night:

72: Points per game the Wildcats have scored on average in games played at home this season. This could spell trouble for the Longhorns, who are averaging just over 61 points per game in games played away from the Erwin Center. If Texas wants a chance to upset the Wildcats on their home court, it will need to hold them well below this scoring average.

64: The national rank in team rebounds per game for Kansas State, which averages just a shade under 38 a game. Texas has fared slightly better, ranking 30th in the nation with 39 per game. Although this appears to be an area of advantage for Texas, the Longhorns will be without their leading rebounder, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes. Holmes, who is averaging 7.1 rebounds per game, is out for the next several weeks with a broken hand injury.

14.8: The number of home victories the Wildcats have averaged per year over the past five seasons, including a 71-62 win in 2010 over a Texas team ranked No. 1 at the time. Since head coach Frank Martin took over during the 2006 season, the Wildcats have won at least 15 homes games in all but two seasons.  

11: Home victories for the Wildcats this season. Kansas State has lost only one game at the Bramlage Coliseum so far this year, a four-point defeat to No. 2 Kansas. However, only one of those victories came against a ranked opponent, when the Wildcats defeated the No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys 73-67 earlier this month.

7: Total games Texas has played in “The Octagon” under head coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns have performed fairly well in the coliseum’s hostile conditions, holding a respectable 3-4 record in those games. However, they have not won in Manhattan since 2008.

6: The number of road games left on the Longhorns’ schedule, including Wednesday’s game. Over the past five years, Texas has averaged just over seven victories a year away from the Erwin Center during the regular season. If they want to match that total, they will need to win the rest of their road games, starting Wednesday in “The Octagon.”

After a disappointing showing at the Maui Invitational, the Longhorns return to the Erwin Center on Tuesday night to face Sam Houston State.

Texas took down Mississippi State, 69-55, in the tournament’s seventh-place game Wednesday but it didn’t do much to ease the pain of losses to Chaminade, a Division II team, and Southern California the two previous days.

“We finally played somewhat as a team and somewhat hard but we still have a lot to get better at,” sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes said. “We definitely need to get tougher. We need to grow up and figure how to play a whole game.”

Texas is facing a Bearkats team that has not once beaten it during head coach Rick Barnes’ tenure. The Longhorns have won 36 straight games against non-conference teams at home. However, after falling to Chaminade, no contest may be the sure victory it appears to be.

The Longhorns have struggled without sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo and sophomore forward Jaylen Bond, who has a left foot injury that is not season-ending but will force him to miss a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, the NCAA’s investigation into whether Kabongo received impermissible benefits this offseason drags on, meaning he will miss his sixth straight game Tuesday.

“Our two leaders haven’t played,” Barnes said. “And they may not play for a while. So that can’t be an excuse. You’re talking about two of our best defensive players, our best rebounder. With that said, we’ve got to have other guys step up and fill the leadership role. It might not just be one person. Collectively, that’s got to happen.”

Texas is allowing opponents to shoot just 33 percent from the floor, the fifth-best mark in the country, and will be facing a Sam Houston State squad that is shooting only 36.9 percent from the floor, the nation’s 17th-worst mark. But the Longhorns will need to limit their turnovers. They’re committing 19.2 turnovers per game this year, the 14th most in the country. 

Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: Horns back at home after terrible Maui trip

Sports Briefly

The North American Super Welterweight Championship will be decided in Austin this summer, when No. 2 contender Fernando Guerrero faces Michael Medina at the Erwin Center.


ESPN announced the main event for its June 17 card on Tuesday. The cable network’s popular Friday Night Fights program returns to Austin for the first time since 2008.


“I will take all the titles I can get, but what I’m really after is that World Championship belt,” Guerrero said. “For me, this is a must win.”


Austin boxer Jesus Chavez, a former two-time world champion, will also be honored during the event. Chavez is the only world champion in the city’s history. He now works as a trainer in Dallas.


“I know this is supposed to be honoring me and my career,” Chavez said. “But the truth is, when they hand me the microphone, it will be me thanking the great fans of Austin for all their support over the years.”

Horns slip past with Thompson, Hamilton scoring 17 each

After hitting the first of two free throws with 24 seconds to play, Gary Johnson stepped off the line, raised his hand into the air flashed a “Hook ‘Em” sign to the sellout crowd at the Erwin Center — the Bears weren’t coming back to upset No. 3 Texas on Saturday.

He hit his second free throw, giving the Longhorns (22-3, 10-0 Big 12) a seven-point edge, and Cory Joseph added two more 11 seconds later to deliver them a 69-60 victory.

“We are proud of the way we are playing, but we can improve,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We have to stay focused on our game.”

The Longhorns led by as many as 19 but Baylor (16-8, 6-5) played its way back into the game, getting within three late.

But Texas outrebounded and outshot the Bears to win its 10th consecutive game. It helped that the Longhorns took a whopping 37 free throws to Baylor’s eight.

“Texas was dominant,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson each scored 17 for Texas while Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn led all scorers with 26.