Rick Barnes

Texas holds on to beat Vanderbilt; young Longhorns now 7-1

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It wasn’t pretty, but the Texas Longhorns pulled off another win on Monday night, earning a 70-64 win over Vanderbilt at home to move to 7-1 on the season.

Texas head coach Rick Barnes’ hot seat is cooling a bit as the wins keep mounting and the Longhorns had to really hold on to earn this one.

Despite leading the entire game after trailing 2-0 and holding a 13-point second-half lead, Texas nearly blew the game on multiple occasions but their young team rallied and held strong.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor is going to be one to watch for the Longhorns as the season progresses. Rick Barnes can usually find some solid interior play from the combination of Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes, Kendal Yancy and Connor Lammert, but Taylor had 14 points and eight assists and only two turnovers and uses those big men well on ball screens to slip into the lane for the floater or find an open teammate.

Couple Taylor with decent minutes on-the-ball with fellow sophomore guard Javan Felix and Texas is a decent offensive team as long as those guys are steady with the ball.

The Texas defense also held Vanderbilt to 37 percent from the floor and 23 percent from three-point range and was generally aggressive in going for strips and closing out.

Although the Longhorns had some mental breakdowns in the final minutes — including a missed boxout on a Vanderbilt missed free throw that led to Rod Odom’s putback with 1:02 left to make it 62-58 — they eventually made free throws down the stretch, another area Texas will need to improve.

Vanderbilt had a chance to tie with the ball under 30 seconds left, and trailing by three, but Odom tripped and fell as a pass from Austin-native Eric McClellan (22 points) sailed over his head.

Texas capitalized with a Taylor three-point play on the ensuing well-run inbounds play to close the game out.

Demarcus Holland was another sophomore to play well for Texas, going for 12 points and acting as a solid glue guy, and as long as this young group of Longhorns continue to mesh and their guard play is steady, Texas might surprise some people in the Big 12.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.