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
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.
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.
Before I get started on this, I want to make one note that I’m sure no one is going to pay attention to: We tried to build these teams into something similar to what you could actually put on a basketball court. Two guards, a wing, a couple big men, whatever.
For starters, I’ve always thought that should be the way that it’s not. It’s the “All-American Team”, not the “All-American List”. Secondly, if all you want is a list, we do weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: We can debate all we want about what position Jerian Grant is — for what it’s worth, I will always refer to him as a lead guard — but the bottom line is this: there is no back court player in the country has played better than Grant over the course of the last month. He’s averaging 18.2 points and 6.3 assists (along with just 1.3 turnovers) for an 11-1 team. Notre Dame’s schedule has been awful, I know, but I don’t think Grant’s numbers are a product of that.
Delon Wright, Utah: The Utes are 3-1 in their last four games, beating Wichita State, BYU and UNLV, the latter two on the road. The only loss? By three, at Kansas in Kansas City. In those four games? Wright is averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 boards, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals while playing 39.8 minutes. He’s the most indispensable player in the country.
Georges Niang, Iowa State: Niang is the centerpiece of one of the nation’s most high-octane offenses. A power forward by trade, Niang has turned into one of the nations most skilled passers, averaging 4.2 assists. It’s a luxury for Fred Hoiberg to have Niang on the roster when his point guard, Monte’ Morris, is one of the best in the country.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: It feels like we haven’t heard from Frank Kaminsky in forever, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what happens when Wisconsin goes 18 days between meaningful games. Trust me when I tell you that The Tank hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still averaging 16.0 points and 7.6 boards for the No. 6 team in the country.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke: The Player of the Year to date this season, and he proved it last week. Against an Elon team that was considerably overmatched in the paint against him, Okafor went for 25 points and 20 boards as the Blue Devils struggled to beat the Phoenix. Three days later, when Duke tripped up to New Jersey to take on UConn, Okafor finished with just 12 points and 10 boards, but he facilitated everything offensively, allowing Duke to work through him and take advantage of mismatches when the Huskies sold out defensively to double-team him. He also fouled Amida Brimah out in 13 minutes. Dominance.
NBC SPORTS MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM
Ty Wallace, California: Listen to this stat line: 19.5 points, 8.9 boards, 4.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 50.6% 2PT, 50.0% 3PT. And Cal’s record: 11-1. Not mutually exclusive.
Ron Baker, Wichita State: No one is replacing Cleanthony Early for Wichita State, but Baker is trying his best, as he’s become a more aggressive, well-rounded scorer this year.
Justin Anderson, Virginia: Anderson is a perfect fit for Virginia, a three-and-D wing that is shooting 60.0 percent from three, plays terrific defense and gets to the offensive glass.
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: The leading scorer, leading rebounder and most versatile defender on a top three defense that struggles to score. Now only if he stopped punching people …
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: The Wildcats are going to go as far as their defense takes them, and Cauley-Stein is the engine that makes their defense run.
NBC SPORTS MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington: Williams-Goss is the engine for Washington, which may be the nation’s most surprising team. The irony: He may not even be their most valuable player. Robert Upshaw is.
D’angelo Russell, Ohio State: Russell was the last to make this list. His numbers are absurd, but OSU’s schedule has been awful and Russell is 10-for-37 from the floor and 3-for-16 from three against North Carolina and Louisville.
D’angelo Harrison, St. John’s: Harrison is having the best season of his career, averaging 19.8 points and 6.6 boards. He’s not a great decision-maker, but he’s as competitive as anyone and has sparked a number of St. John’s comebacks this season.
Stanley Johnson, Arizona: The leading scorer and biggest perimeter threat for an Arizona team ranked No. 3 in the country.
Jonathan Holmes, Texas: Holmes is the leading scorer for a Texas team that has a chance to be the first team to knock Kansas off the top of the Big 12.
Top-ranked Kentucky remains undefeated with a 63-51 win over No. 6 Texas on Friday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington. It’s the second double-digit win over a top-10 team this season for the Wildcats.
After heading into the locker room tied 26-26, No. 1 Kentucky picked up the already stifling defense to spark an early second half run, quickly turning a tie game into a double-digit lead. Kentucky’s white platoon — Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein in for Marcus Lee – scored the first 10 points of the half, getting the ball inside Texas’ 2-3 zone, while also getting out in transition for easy buckets.
Kentucky’s lead ballooned to 44-28, thanks to an 18-2 run. To the Longhorns’ credit, they cut the lead to five, 56-51, with under two minutes to play, but Willie Cauley-Stein, who had his hands all over Friday night’s win, put the final stamp on the victory, completing an alley-oop pass from Andrew Harrison.
Cauley-Stein finished with a great stat line of 21 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Dakari Johnson had 11, followed by Karl-Anthony Towns with 10. Jonathan Holmes finished with a team-high 14 points for Texas.
For the second time in less than three weeks, Kentucky has taken down a team ranked in the top-6. On Nov. 18, in the Champions Classic, Kentucky dismantled then-No. 4 Kansas, 72-40. On Friday night, Texas looked to be in a good position early, dominating Kentucky on the boards, which ended in a 27-11 advantage through the first 20 minutes. But late in the first half a Flagrant 1 called on Holmes, sparked a 6-0 run, tying the game.
The offense for Kentucky continues to be a work in progress. Texas was without starting point guard Isaiah Taylor (wrist), but Kentucky — with its full arsenal of guards — saw its back court struggle from the field. The Harrison twins, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis shot 4-of-27 collectively, although Ulis and Andrew Harrison combined for eight assists and one turnover. Andrew also hit the lone 3-pointer for Kentucky.
The Wildcats shot under 10 percent from three, were outrebounded, juggled the platoons and held off a late charge from the Longhorns. And still won by a dozen.
But Kentucky’s defense held Texas to under 30 percent (no opponent has shot better than 40 percent through eight games) forced 22 turnovers and wore down a frontline as foul trouble mounted in a whistle-happy game.
Kentucky has a two-games — Eastern Kentucky and Columbia — before a three-game stretch against the likes of No. 12 North Carolina, UCLA and at No. 5 Louisville.
Every Tuesday, we will be providing you with a breakdown of the top ten candidates for National Player of the Year. You can read through the older posts here.
1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: On Wednesday night, Kaminsky and Okafor will square off as No. 4 Duke makes the trip up to Madison to take on the Badgers in what very well could be the best game of the entire regular season. There may not be an individual matchup all season long that is more tantalizing, either. Okafor commands as much attention as any low-post player that has come through the collegiate ranks in a long time, and while Kaminsky is just as big, he’s more of a face-up big man than he is a low-block work horse.
I shouldn’t have to explain this anymore than that. These are the two best big men in the country — and arguably the two best players. If you’re not watching, you’re a lost cause.
3. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: We may only be six games into the season, but that doesn’t mean that it is too early to talk about just how good Kevin Pangos has been this season. It’s off the charts. His offensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.com, is 166.0, a number that is unheard of. His effective field goal percentage is 75.7, which is extremely high for a guard, and he has an assist rate of 33.0 and a turnover rate of 8.7.
If those numbers don’t do it for you, how about this: He’s played 173 minutes this season, handing out 38 assists while turning the ball over just four times and missing, including free throws, just 17 shot attempts.
Perhaps what Pangos has done best this season is execute in the pick-and-roll. He and Kyle Wiltjer have become borderline-unstoppable on side pick-and-roll actions. Against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Friday, he showed a nice rapport with both Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski, hitting them both multiple times with lobs over the defense as they rolled to the rim.
Here is how Pangos’ numbers stack up to the rest of the guard on this list:
(PP(P+A) = points-per-possession plus points-per-assist; P’n’R PPP = PP(P+A) on pick-and-rolls)
4. Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Rodriguez still has the most impressive individual performance of the season, scoring 20 points and hitting five threes in the final 6:47 in a win at Florida. The Hurricanes are still undefeated on the year, and at this point they look like they will very much be in the mix for an NCAA tournament berth.
5. LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton was 1-for-8 from the floor for three points in a 58-38 loss to No. 1 Kentucky. He won’t be the only star to get swallowed up by Big Blue this season. He’s averaging 24.3 points in the other six games Providence has played.
6. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: You can see Grant’s numbers above. He’s also averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 assists. He’ll climb this list if Notre Dame starts beating some teams worth noting.
7. Jonathan Holmes, Texas: His numbers aren’t other-worldly, but in three games against potential tournament teams, Holmes is averaging 17.7 points and 8.7 boards while shooting 8-for-15 from three. Oh, and he did this:
8. Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert is averaging 17.5 points, 6.2 boards and 4.7 assists while shooting 50.0 percent from three. We knew that he was going to have a big year, but what’s been impressive is that he appears ready to takeover the alpha-dog role on this team. He made a number of big, big shots during Michigan’s two games in the Legends Classic.
9. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: Harrell was unbelievable against Minnesota on the opening night. He’s been solid since then, but those performances have come in games against teams that the Cardinals have beaten by 61 points.
10. D’angelo Russell, Ohio State: We were hardly the only people to pick Russell as one of the freshmen expected to have a massive season, but I’m not sure that I could have predicted this: 18.0 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 boards and 48.3 percent shooting from three to go along with the numbers you see listed above. Here’s the thing: most of his damage has been done against patsies; he was 2-for-5 with seven turnovers in the win over Marquette. The Buckeyes play Louisville Tuesday night. We’ll see how he does then.
OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Ron Baker (Wichita State), Quinn Cook (Duke), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), Wesley Saunders (Harvard), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Joseph Young (Oregon)
Jonathan Holmes last-second three lifts No. 7 Texas past No. 24 UConn, 55-54 (VIDEO)
In the second half, No. 24 UConn went on an 11-1 run to take a 47-42 over No. 7 Texas with nine minutes remaining in the game. However, after that spurt, the Huskies only converted on one more field goal as the Longhorns stormed back to take a signature 55-54 road victory.
Ryan Boatright scored 13 of UConn’s final 15 points, but split a pair of free throws with 20 seconds to go, up 54-52. With 4.4 seconds left, Jonathan Holmes was freed on an up screen and made a baseline 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Daniel Hamilton got lost on the screen and Boatright, who was guarding the screener, ended up hitting the deck, tweaking his ankle on the play. Myles Turner had slipped the screen and made a cut to the basket. Amida Brimah had to leave Turner alone under the hoop to close out on Holmes’ three, so had he missed it long, Texas had a second-chance opportunity.
Boatright led all scorers with 24 points. Holmes had 13 for Texas while Javan Felix and Demarcus Holland each had 10.
This game was reminiscent of last year’s Florida-UConn game in Storrs. The Gators were missing Scottie Wilbekin and Shabazz Napier took over, hitting the game-winner. Texas was without Isaiah Taylor for the third straight game, and late in the game the Longhorns missed having the ball in his hands as Felix turned the ball over with 27 seconds left, stumbling and throwing a pass out of bounds.
This is one of several non-conference games the Longhorns will play without Taylor with No. 1 Kentucky and Stanford coming up in December.
Texas took a 31-25 halftime lead, amassing a lot of points in transition with bad shots from UConn setting up easy opportunities at the other end. But the Huskies were tough in the halfcourt set, doubling the post and making it difficult for Texas’ big frontline to take control of the game.