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.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: