Remember when we were all laughing about Texas because Rick Barnes was so totally about to be fired and, like, he didn’t even know, bro?
Because Texas was going to be awful, right?
So much for that.
After starting Big 12 play 0-2 with losses to both of the Oklahoma schools, the Longhorns have now won four in a row, including victories over No. 8 Iowa State on Saturday and, on Tuesday night, a 67-64 win over No. 22 Kansas State thanks to the buzzer-beating heroics from forward Jonathan Holmes.
As a result, the Longhorns are currently sitting in second place in the Big 12 standings, two games behind Kansas and holding a tie-breaker with the Wildcats. Think about that. We may only be a third of the way through conference season, and Texas still have eight (seriously, eight!) more Big 12 games against teams currently sitting in the top 25, but what we know now is that the Longhorns are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Can they outlast Kansas and win the conference title?
This is still Texas and there are still the talent deficiencies that tend to go hand in hand with losing your top four perimeter threats.
But Cameron Ridley is starting to prove why he was a top ten recruit coming out of high school, and the ability of Holmes as a versatile scorer and defensive playmaker compliment him perfectly up front. If you toss in Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh off the bench, Texas has a front line that can match up with anyone in the country, and that includes Kansas and star center Joel Embiid.
Javan Felix is a solid enough lead guard when he is flanked by young talents like Isaiah Taylor and Demarcus Holland.
They have some depth, they’re playing hard and they’re playing together. The egos are gone, and it’s working.
Texas looks like an NCAA tournament team, and if they can pull that feat off, it probably will earn Rick Barnes a number of Coach of the Year awards.
So much for getting fired.