How much work Texas has to do in order to ensure itself of an NCAA tournament bid is up for debate. But there’s no denying the fact that a loss to Iowa State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament would not help their cause.
The Longhorns, who did not have freshman big man Mohamed Bamba in either of the team’s final two regular season games, are unlikely to have the 6-foot-11 center Wednesday night. Bamba told media members that he did not think he would be able to play against Iowa State due to the sprained toe suffered in a game at Oklahoma February 17.
Bamba did play in the Longhorns’ next two games before being sidelined for the team’s matchups with Kansas and West Virginia.
“Basically, it’s jsut day to day and making sure there’s no pain when I’m running, when I’m jumping, doing basketball things,” Bamba said according to NBC Sports’ Travis Hines. “Doing whatever to get back there as soon as possible.
“I don’t think I’m playing tomorrow, but who knows.
“I felt pretty good, just moving around,” Bamba continued. “I shot a little bit. Felt pretty good. I made strides since I injured it back at OKlahoma. I obviously played through it in two games. It’s probably best I didn’t play through it. There’s a lot of pain. I’m definitely making strides.”
Bamba’s averaging 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game, leading the Big 12 in total blocked shots (105) and blocks per game. Bamba’s block percentage of 13.1 ranks second in the conference behind West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate (16.6).
If Bamba is unable to play Wednesday night, fellow freshman Jericho Sims becomes an even more important figure for Texas. Averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on the season, the 6-foot-9 forward has played his best basketball of the season over the last three games. In those games Sims averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, shooting 69.6 percent from the field.
Texas won two of those games, and the growth of Sims has helped Shaka Smart account for the loss of Bamba.