Javan Felix

Shaka Smart
Associated Press

Rebounding the difference as Texas clips No. 3 North Carolina

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Entering Saturday’s game at Texas No. 3 North Carolina was ranked sixth in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, as opponents were managing to grab just 21.4 percent of their available offensive rebounds. That wasn’t the case in Austin, and it was fitting that Javan Felix’s jumper as time expired to give the Longhorns the 84-82 victory came on a second-chance opportunity.

Texas grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, which worked out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 41 percent and 21 second-chance points. In a game that played as if the team with the ball last would win, the rebounding was the biggest separator between the two teams.

Texas senior center Cameron Ridley, who grabbed six offensive rebounds and finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds, proved to be the toughest matchup for North Carolina on the boards. Ridley outplayed Kennedy Meeks, who finished with four points and six rebounds and struggled defensively when involved in ball screens. That led to Meeks at times being replaced by the slender Isaiah Hicks, who chipped in with 14 points and three rebounds off the bench.

Hicks’ contributions were key, especially when also considering Brice Johnson’s early foul trouble, but the Tar Heels’ lack of rebounding ultimately caught up to them.

Ridley wasn’t the only Longhorn who gave North Carolina issues either. Felix scored 25 points, combining with fellow guard Isaiah Taylor to score 43 points on the day. Add in 16 points and four rebounds off the bench from Eric Davis Jr., and Texas’ three most effective guards outscored the North Carolina triumvirate of Marcus Paige, Joel Berry II and Nate Britt 59-33.

While Paige scored 20 points to lead North Carolina, Berry (eight points, no assists) and Nate Britt (five points, two assists) were largely ineffective against the Texas perimeter. That represents a step back for those two, who had played well for the Tar Heels to this point in the season.

Of course, whether or not a foul should have been called when Connor Lammert ran into Marcus Paige before Felix’s shot will be debated ad nauseum. But when looking at why Texas had a chance to win the game, look no further than the rebounding numbers. North Carolina didn’t take care of business on the defensive glass as they had in their first eight games, and in the end they paid for it.

Concussion to keep Texas forward out of Wednesday’s game against TCU

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After playing Saturday’s game, a 61-57 win at Kansas State that ended a four-game losing streak, without two members of his rotation Texas head coach Rick Barnes will once again be without a starter when the Longhorns take on TCU Wednesday night.

6-foot-8 senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who’s currently second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding, will miss his second consecutive game. Holmes suffered a concussion in Texas’ home loss to Oklahoma State last Wednesday, and he hasn’t practiced since according to Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman.

Texas did receive good news in regards to the status of guard Javan Felix however, as he’s been cleared to play after also missing Saturday’s win due to a concussion. Felix was injured late in a loss at Baylor, resulting in his missing the Oklahoma State and Kansas State games.

Without those two in the lineup Saturday, Barnes went with an eight-man rotation with freshman Jordan Barnett playing 11 minutes. Barnett, who is averaging 9.3 minutes per game on the season, played a total of five minutes in the Longhorns’ losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State and did not play against either Kansas (January 24) or Iowa State (January 26).

Texas forward Jonathan Holmes will not play against Kansas State

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Texas has dropped four straight heading into Saturday’s Big 12 clash with Kansas State.

The Longhorns will enter the game without the services of Jonathan Holmes, the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder, who will not travel with the team due to a concussion, according to Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. Holmes took a shot to the head early in the second half against Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.

While Holmes will remain in Austin, reserve guard Javan Felix, who is also recovering from a concussion, made the trip to Manhattan, but is questionable at the moment, Davis reported.

Holmes is averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for struggling Texas, which has fallen to 3-6 in the conference standings. The Longhorns will be taking another another slumping Big 12 program in K-State, which has dropped four of its last five following a hot start to league play.

The Wildcats suspended leading scorer Marcus Foster and freshman Malek Harris on Wednesday night for violation of team rules.

Texas guard will miss Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State with a concussion

Texas v Iowa State
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source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

After a tremendous start to the season, Texas has faltered recently during Big 12 play with three consecutive losses. Things didn’t get any easier for the Longhorns on Tuesday as the team announced on their official Twitter page that junior guard Javan Felix will miss Wednesday’s home game against Oklahoma State with a concussion.

The 5-foot-11 Felix comes off the bench for Texas and started in-place of Isaiah Taylor when Taylor was out with a broken wrist earlier this season. The New Orleans native is averaging 10.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and has been one of the Longhorns’ most reliable perimeter options this season at 38 percent from 3-point range.

Texas also has a game this Saturday on the road against Kansas State and it’s unclear at this point whether Felix will be available for the game.

UPDATE: Texas loses starting point guard to left wrist injury, out 4-6 weeks

Anthony Clemmons, Isaiah Taylor
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With just over two minutes remaining in No. 10 Texas’ win over Iowa in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic, sophomore starting point guard Isaiah Taylor hit the floor hard after being fouled on a layup attempt by Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni. Taylor would be subbed out of the game after shooting the resulting free throws, and unfortunately for the Longhorns the injury has sidelined Taylor indefinitely according to Jeff Goodman of

Per the report the school will take another look at the wrist when the team returns to Austin following their game against California Friday night at Madison Square Garden. And while the injury is expected to sideline Taylor for “several weeks,” it isn’t expected to be a season-ending injury.

Without Taylor look for Javan Felix to move into the starting point guard role, a spot the junior isn’t unfamiliar with. Felix made 23 starts as a freshman with Myck Kabongo suspended by the NCAA, and as a sophomore he started 20 of the Longhorns’ 34 games. The good news for Texas is that they have an experienced options to grab the reins while Taylor’s sidelined, but even with that being the case this is a personnel loss that will impact the way in which they do things.

Taylor was also the team’s leading scorer (15.0 ppg), and his injury likely means that more will be asked of starting guard Demarcus Holland when it comes to perimeter scoring. Holland’s averaged 8.3 points per game through the first three games of the season.

UPDATE: Jeff Goodman of ESPN, who originally reported the injury received an update from Texas head coach Rick Barnes shortly before Texas ‘game against Cal on Friday night:

Top 25 Countdown: No. 8 Texas Longhorns

Isaiah Taylor (Getty Images)
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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 college hoops preview package. We continue our countdown today with No. 8 Texas.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

Rick Barnes and Javan Felix (AP Photo)

Head Coach: Rick Barnes

Last Season: 24-11, 11-7 Big 12 (t-3rd)

Key Losses: Martez Walker

Newcomers: Myles Turner, Jordan Barnett

Projected Lineup

G: Isaiah Taylor, So.
G: Demarcus Holland, Jr.
F: Jonathan Holmes, Sr.
F: Connor Lammert, Jr.
C: Cameron Ridley, Jr.
Bench: Myles Turner, Fr.; Javan Felix, Jr.; Kendal Yancy, So.; Demarcus Croaker, So.; Jordan Barnett, Fr.; Prince Ibeh

They’ll be good because … : The Longhorns will pair one of the country’s most underrated point guards with a big, powerful, deep front line. Let’s start in the back court with sophomore Isaiah Taylor, who you may not realize is coming off of a season where he averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 assists. He’s quick with the ball in his hands and he’s got the best floater in college basketball. If he can find a way to extend his range this season — he shot just 26.3% from three — and cut down a bit on the 2.4 turnovers he averaged, there’s a chance he ends up being the best point guard in the Big 12.

And that would be huge considering that he’ll be playing on quite possibly the only team in the country that can go big-for-big with Kentucky. Junior Cameron Ridley finally looked like a top ten recruit during his sophomore season while Jonathan Holmes somewhat surprisingly developed into a dangerous combo-forward that can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot. Connor Lammert reportedly got a start at the four during a secret scrimmage with Davidson, while Prince Ibeh blocked 1.7 shots per game despite playing just over 13 minutes last season as well.

The x-factor is going to be top ten recruit Myles Turner. Turner is a really bright kid with size, length and athleticism, but he’s still raw at this point in his development. His back to the basket game leaves something to be desired, and he has a tendency to float out on the perimeter, looking for catch-and-shoot threes. He’s got the talent to be a lottery pick, however, and if he plays like it, Texas will be scary.

source: Getty Images
Isaiah Taylor (Getty Images)

But they might disappoint because … : There are two concerns that I have with this Texas group. First and foremost, the defensive end of the floor. When the Longhorns put their best five players on the floor, they will have a lineup where Holmes is playing the three. The 6-foot-7 senior has some perimeter skills and is a threat at the three-point line, but he’s still more of a college four than anything else. Can he defend someone like Kelly Oubre or Bryce Dejean-Jones? Those are the types of players that will be playing the three in the Big 12. And if he can’t, can Texas effectively play a 2-3 zone with their three bigs across the baseline?

The other concern is three-point shooting. When you have a lineup that is loaded with big men, it is imperative that there are players that can knock down perimeter jumpers to keep the floor spread. If there aren’t, than defenses can collapse on anyone that is posting up knowing that they aren’t going to consistently get hurt leaving shooters wide open at the three point line. Taylor shot 26.3% from three last season. Javan Felix shot 34.3%. Kendal Yancy shot 35.3%, but only took 17 threes. Damarcus Croaker shot 29.7%. Demarcus Holland shot 29.2%. Even Holmes shot a measly 33.3% from three. Who stretches the floor for Texas?

Outlook: Texas has the talent to once again play like the Texas teams that we grew accustomed to under head coach Rick Barnes. It was one of the best stories of the 2013-2014 season, as Barnes had all-but been fired by … well … everyone. Instead, this team built itself around defense and rebounding and got just enough offense from guys like Taylor and Holmes to finish third in the Big 12 and make the NCAA tournament.

The question now is whether or not the Longhorns will be able to grow this season. They essentially return the exact same team this season, only with the addition of a top five recruit and future lottery pick in Turner. Will Barnes find a way to take advantage of this team’s strengths while minimizing some of their (glaring?) weaknesses? That remains to be seen.

The Big 12 is tough this season, particularly at the top of the conference. I like the Longhorns’ chances of making a run at a regular season title.