AUSTIN, Texas -- A dejected
After watching Texas' latest implosion, its fifth loss in seven games since being ranked No. 1 on Jan. 18, it's hard to believe him. The Big 12's two powerhouses had been 1-2 in
Kansas (23-1, 9-0 in Big 12) looked like one of the two favorites -- along with Syracuse -- to win the national championship. Texas (19-5, 5-4) looked like a team that could very easily not make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. The defining difference? "They know," James said of the Jayhawks, "what they're looking for on offense."
The Longhorns' All-America power forward stopped there, only implying the rest: For the past few weeks, his team has had little-to-no idea what it's looking for on offense. They look for James, who played like the All-America candidate he is on Monday, scoring 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but as a whole they have no flow, no purpose, no direction. They've long been called the nation's deepest team, and yet the five guards who saw minutes against KU combined for all of two assists. Depth isn't an asset when everyone in your backcourt is struggling.
"If we could understand one aspect of this game, we could be the team we want to be," Texas coach
His team had six assists (the leader, with two, was center
To that end, Barnes has decreased the minutes of two of his best backcourt defenders,
The hope is that freshman combo guard
Texas' backcourt woes were made even more evident by the presence, on the other side of the ball, of Kansas'
The game finished with a Collins exclamation mark. He dribbled over the half-court line with the clock running down and no one around him, then spiked the ball so hard into the floor that it nearly bounced up and hit the scoreboard as the buzzer sounded. With a huge smile on his face, he skipped toward the Kansas bench for flying shoulder-bumps, and later walked off the court holding up dual "No. 1" signs in the face of Texas fans holding up horns.
Other scoring stars emerged for the Jayhawks on Monday -- Morris had a team-high 18 points, and freshman
There are certainly things Texas can fix -- protecting the ball, taking smarter shots, using lineups with better offensive chemistry. But none of those lineups will ever include a guard of Collins' ilk. And that's reason to worry that Texas, both in the short-term and the NCAA tournament, will not be all right.