After playing each of its first four games at the Frank Erwin Center, the Longhorns head to Kansas City, Mo., Monday for their CBE semifinal matchup against the BYU Cougars.
Despite its youth and inexperience, Texas has started the season with an impressive four game win streak, but have yet to face the challenge of playing on the road.
“Just knowing that we’re going up to Kansas City to play BYU, this is a big opportunity for us to put Texas Basketball back on the map,” freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor said. “We want to get back to where we once were, so it’s a big opportunity [for] the team, the coaching staff and the program in general.”
Perhaps the bigger challenge for the young Longhorns will be playing on consecutive days, with a tournament championship on the line. Depending on the result of tonight’s game against the Cougars, Texas will take on DePaul or Wichita State in either the championship game or third place contest Tuesday night.
“The key will be playing in back-to-back games and playing a different style,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “So it will be important to adapt quickly from one game to the next. That’s what the early season is about. You try to get exposed to as many different styles as you can.”
Thought by many to be a team in the midst of the rebuilding process, the Longhorns have looked like a Big 12 contender in each of their first four games.
With so many unproven freshmen on the roster, it appeared as though Texas was going to need to rely heavily on it’s leading returning scorer from last year’s team, but that has not been the case.
“When we started the season, I would have thought we’d have to rely on Javan Felix for a little bit more scoring,” Barnes said. “But we don’t have to rely on any one player to score. We’d like to have five or six guys in double figures.”
Texas has done just that so far this year, with at least three players scoring in double figures in each of its games, including five guys with 10 or more against Stephen F. Austin. The Longhorns have also had three different leading scorers in their four contests this year, none of which have been Felix.
“I’ve been most surprised by our versatility on offense,” said junior forward Jonathan Holmes, who leads the team with 15 points per game. “I didn’t know how many guys would actually have the ability to score, but it’s good to see it from a lot of them.”