Still without Kabongo and Bond, Texas takes on Sam Houston State in first game since Maui Invitational

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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