Texas defeats Kansas State 62-49
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Jon Holmes has endured a rough stretch for the past month.
The Texas forward missed two games after suffering a concussion on Feb. 4 against Oklahoma State, went through a six-game shooting slump after returning, and had has to worry that the Longhorns will miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.
But Holmes emerged on Saturday. Playing in his final home game, the senior scored 10 points and blocked four shots, helping Texas defeat Kansas State 62-49 in the final regular season game for both teams.
The 6-foot-8 forward made a pair of critical 3-pointers in the second half as the Longhorns pulled away, providing a measure of redemption for a guy who hit just 10 of 41 shots in his previous six games.
''It really was great for him,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
Texas (19-12, 8-10 Big 12) kept its tenuous chances of reaching the NCAA tournament alive with the victory.
Kansas State (15-16, 8-10) is in jeopardy of not even receiving a spot in the National Invitation Tournament after falling to 1-10 on the road.
Demarcus Holland led Texas with 12 points. Connor Lammert scored 11. Isaiah Taylor produced 10 points and six assists.
The Longhorns blocked 14 shots - including three apiece by Cam Ridley and Prince Ibeh - matching a school record they set against Kansas on Feb. 28. They lead the nation in that area. Texas made 10 blocks in the first half, tying another school record.
Kansas State shot just 36.4 percent.
''They're gonna block shots,'' Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. ''You've gotta be smarter after a few. We talked all week about making that next pass.''
Guard Marcus Foster and forward Thomas Gipson scored 15 points apiece for Kansas State. Gipson grabbed 11 rebounds.
Foster was suspended the first time Texas and Kansas State met for a violation of team rules, a game the Longhorns won 61-57 on Feb. 7.
Texas, after leading by eight at halftime, failed to make a field goal until the 12:53 mark of the second half. The Longhorns made three free throws during that span.
Javan Felix made that first basket of the half, a fast-break layup. Within the next six minutes, the Longhorns had three-point possessions three times. Holmes made consecutive 3-point shots, and then center Ridley made a dunk and a free throw, the former an alley-oop assisted by Kendal Yancy.
''I'm not afraid of the moment, trying to make big shots,'' Holmes said. ''Never have been.''
Holmes' teammates cheered wildly when he made those baskets.
''We've never given up on Jon,'' Holland said. ''We knew he'd start hitting shots again.''
Texas: The Longhorns' game against unranked Kansas State stopped a streak of five straight against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25. They lost to Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia and Kansas before beating No. 14 Baylor on Monday.
Kansas State: The Wildcats played without two starters. Forward Nino Williams missed the game for personal reasons. He averages 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. Guard Jevon Thomas didn't make the trip. Coach Bruce Weber declined to say why Thomas was left home or if he would rejoin the team.
Kansas State is respectable 5-6 against opponents that are in the top-25 of the Ratings Percentage Index, one of several resources the NCAA tournament selection committee has at its disposal. The Wildcats beat Kansas (No. 2 RPI) and Iowa State (14) in a span of six days in late February. But Kansas State is only 7-4 against teams outside the top 100. The Wildcats lost to Texas Southern (No. 138) at home and to Texas Tech (175) and TCU (128) on the road.
Texas faces Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament Wednesday in Kansas City.
Kansas State faces TCU in the Big 12 tournament Wednesday in Kansas City.