Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. The Longhorns sit pretty at four wins and zero losses. First place in the Big 12, baby! SOAK IT IN. If Texas keeps it up, my request to get Detlef Schrempf shooting free throws in the Barking Carnival tailgate lounge will soon come to fruition.
All Things Burnt Orange:
Texas 72, Stephen F. Austin 62 (Sat) | Texas 89, Houston Baptist 61 (Mon) | Weekly Record 2-0 | Overall Record 4-0
The Longhorns continued their tradition of playing catch-up, going into halftime against SFA with a 4 point deficit. Hey, but since then, Texas has outscored its opponents 130-88. PROGRESS. (Never you mind the average KenPom ranking of Texas' 4 opponents is 189.)
The Longhorns' best contributions have come from the ultra-efficient power forward tag-team of Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert. Lammert has served as a low-touch, high-efficiency player, and his offensive rating of 172.9 ranks top 10 nationally. He also leads the team with 7.5 RPG, and has chipped in 10.8 PPG, fourth-best amongst all Horns. In doing so, Lammert has shot an unsustainable 72.7% from the field (including 4-6 from distance). However, if he can continue to grab boards and play solid help defense, a regression in made buckets will still translate to a successful sophomore season for him.
Holmes, somewhat surprisingly, is Texas' scoring leader at 15.0 PPG. This number does feel sustainable, and his 6.0 RPG should only increase. Holmes continues to shoot slightly above 50% from inside the arc, but early improvement in FT shooting (88.9%) and 3-point shooting (50.0%) has really boosted his rate and efficiency stats. When Holmes is on the floor, he's an alpha option. Yet he's only on the court 56% of the time. It seems strange to nerf the minutes of Texas' best player, and I'd like to see what Holmes can do with more minutes.
All of this contains the "small sample size" caveat. Texas' first real test comes this weekend, when the Longhorns take on the BYU Cougars at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. The Cougars like to run and like to score, and will be a good stress test for this young Texas team.
Big 12 Power Rankings:
Welcome to the inaugural Big 12 edition of Better Know a Superstar. Leggo.
1. Kansas Jayhawks (3-0)
Andrew Wiggins: Nicknamed Ender. As a third child, he wasn't supposed to be born in this society, but a strong genetic bloodline guaranteed him an opportunity to exist. His older siblings both played college ball, with Nick Wiggins making the Final Four with Wichita St. last year. Wiggins' battle school was Huntington Prep, where he teamed with bestie Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Now at Kansas command school, Wiggins is expected to end Kansas' zero-year drought of making it to a Final Four.
2. Oklahoma St. Cowboys (4-0)
Marcus Smart: It seemed stupid for Smart to turn down a top 5 spot in last year's NBA Draft. But when you can wow Kevin Durant with an outstanding sophomore year, maybe it wasn't a bad decision after all. Smart curbstomped Memphis almost single-handedly, but luckily for him, Travis Ford has built a strong support system around him. Fun fact: remember Fred Lane, a Carolina Panther from Lane College? What's in a name? Well, Marcus Smart is from Marcus High School. Cool story.
3. Iowa St. Cyclones (3-0)
Melvin Ejim: Must have some German plasma-toting connections, since he returned from hyperextended knee injury that was supposed to sideline him for a month in two games. His 22 point, 9 rebound outburst against #9 Michigan pushes Iowa St. to third in this week's power poll. That performance alone immediately makes him my favorite Melvin on the planet, narrowly edging out Melvin Van Peebles. ISU plays BYU tonight on ESPNU, if you're interested in a sneak preview.
4. Baylor Bears (3-0)
Isaiah Austin: Along with Cameron Ridley, gave Texas prep centers a really bad name last year. Like most people that fall under Scott Drew's spell, Austin inexplicably turned down guaranteed NBA money for a shot at non-guaranteed NBA money. Has not attempted a three-pointer all year despite hoisting up 90 as a freshman. Yeah, he's a 7-footer, so that's probably a good idea. He's also so cool, he's gotta wear shades.
5. Oklahoma Sooners (3-0)
Buddy Hield: Under no circumstances is Hield allowed to poop in the refrigerator and eat a whole wheel of cheese. Hield is originally from the Bahamas, yet played high school ball in Kansas and college ball in Oklahoma. Ouch. As a Longhorn fan, just remember: he's not your buddy, guy. And you're not his guy, friend.
6. Texas Longhorns (4-0)
Jonathan Holmes: May or may not have serenaded the locker room with "Your Body is a Wonderland" after Texas' season-opening win against Mercer. Will watch anything starring Val Kilmer. Favorite movie? Willow.
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1)
Jordan Tolbert: Inexplicably remained in the program despite Billy Gillispie being a bigger Debbie Downer than a Rachel Dratch skit. Tolbert has scored in double-figures every game for Texas Tech this season, which my research department tells me is pretty impressive. His early shooting percentage of 69.4% falls comically short of Connor Lammert's gold standard. So ha.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (2-1)
Juwan Staten: Transferred from Dayton, which is about as sucky a program as West Virginia. But at least he now gets to travel to Austin once a year, which is a big plus in his book and mine. Decided to suck last year for reasons unknown, but has been a pleasant surprise so far. Staten leads the Big 12 with 7.3 APG. He's also second to teammate Eron Harris with 20.0 PPG, which I daresay is a nice one-two combination in WVU's peashooter of a team.
9. Kansas St. Wildcats (2-1)
Will Spradling: Ha ha ha ha! Kidding. Kansas St. doesn't really have a star, and by this point I'm glad that the Big 12 has only 10 teams. Marcus Foster leads the team with 16.7 PPG. He was ranked 207th by the 247 Sports Composite, making him only slightly better than Isaiah Taylor. Looks like someone made a rankings mistake, yo.
10. TCU Horned Frogs (1-2)
Kyan Anderson: Diming out 6.0 APG, which is amazing since I thought no one on TCU could score. Anderson probably has the coolest given name I've heard of since they came up with Ryan. TCU just posted a win against Abilene Christian, which gets them much closer to their quota of 5.
Until next week.