December 12, 2014

Texas has had a week to recover from its first defeat. Whether that's given Rick Barnes' team enough practice time to help find its offensive rhythm remains to be seen.

Still trying to adjust to the loss of injured point guard Isaiah Taylor, the No. 8 Longhorns hope for a more cohesive effort while trying to continue their dominance over visiting Texas State on Saturday night.

Texas (7-1) averaged 50.3 percent shooting, 15.0 assists and 12.0 turnovers in the first three games with Taylor, who broke his wrist in a 71-57 win over Iowa on Nov. 20. In the five games against some better competition without their floor leader, the Longhorns have averaged 38.8 percent, 11.4 assists and 15.0 turnovers.

Taylor, with 15.0 points and 3.0 assists per game, likely won't return until the new year.

"We're good. I have told you all we are a good basketball team," Barnes said. "(But) we are out of rhythm. I mean, I am not going to deny that.

"Missing Isaiah made us a whole different team that is neither here nor there."

Texas was held to a season-low 29.8 percent shooting in last Friday's 63-51 loss at top-ranked Kentucky. The athletic and aggressive Wildcats also forced Texas into a season-high 22 turnovers they turned into 19 points.

Poor shooting, giveaways and a 10-0 second-half Kentucky run overshadowed another solid defensive and rebounding game by the Longhorns, who were tied with the Wildcats after 20 minutes.

In a matchup of the nation's top two teams in field-goal percentage defense, the Wildcats' 37.5 percent effort from the floor was their second-lowest of the season and the best an opponent has fared against Texas.

The Longhorns, among the national leaders with 44.5 rebounds per game, held a 42-31 advantage over Kentucky.

"We feel like it was good for us and we have to grow," guard Demarcus Holland said. "We just have to prove that we're smart. Take care of the ball more, and we'll grow from here.

"I mean, it's a long season so we know it's not over. We have a long way to go."

Barnes needs to see improvement from junior Javan Felix, who continues to start in place of Taylor. He's averaging 8.3 points and has a poor 0.83 assist-to-turnover ratio, turning the ball over five times and managing one assist against Kentucky.

Felix had 20 points and seven assists in a 75-63 win over Texas State as a freshman. He scored 13 off the bench in an 85-53 rout of the Bulldogs on Dec. 14, 2013, going 4 of 7 from 3-point range but 4 of 12 overall.

Teammate Cameron Ridley has scored in double figures once and does not have a double-double this season, but recorded 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Bobcats last season.

The Longhorns' 25-game winning streak over Texas State is their longest current run against any opponent.

Though the Bobcats (5-1) have won three in a row and are off to their best start since 2007-08, this will be their first game against a team from a major conference.

Junior Emani Gant averages team highs of 16.2 points and 8.3 rebounds, and posted his second double-double of the season with 19 and 10 boards in last Saturday's 81-65 win over Prairie View A&M.

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