Struggling 'Horns 'not going to quit'
Jan 22, 2013 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Texas coach Rick Barnes says anyone wondering whether his young team may begin to stray emotionally after an 0-5 Big 12 start doesn't know the makeup of his players.
The Longhorns (8-10, 0-5 in Big 12) are off to their worst Big 12 start after Monday's 73-67 loss at Oklahoma.
"We're not going to lose guys [emotionally]," Barnes said during Monday's morning teleconference. "I think we've done too good a job recruiting to know what the makeup of these guys are. I think sometimes people who ask questions like that haven't been around enough. These guys are invested too much. I'm telling you they're not going to quit. They can't. Again, we won't let them, but I don't think it's a matter of us not letting them. These kids have some pride now."
They've also been competitive. Four of the five conference losses were within 10 points, including two in overtime. They led No. 3 Kansas by 11 before the Jayhawks rallied for a 64-59 lead in Austin. Even a 20-point loss at Iowa State was within reach until late in the second half.
"They work at it; they want to be good," Barnes said. "If we continue to lose games it's not going to be quote unquote, 'We lost them.' It's going to be because we still haven't learned the way we need to learn. ... There's no doubt in my mind we're going to get it. I told them [Sunday] night it's just when they decide they want to get it."
One missing link, Barnes said, was a lack of communication on the floor during games, which indicates a lack of team leadership. That could be solved when sophomore guard Myck Kabongo returns for the Feb. 13 game against Iowa State after a 23-game suspension for NCAA violations.
Barnes acknowledges how a few plays here and there could have made a big difference to the Horns' record, but he dismissed the notion as making excuses.
"If I buy in to that, I'd be making excuses for them and for myself and I can't do that," he said. "And I told them I'm not going to do that. I could probably tell you that we're five possessions away from winning five other games. The fact is, we're not. The what ifs don't count. I told them [Sunday night], we keep doing the same things over and over and that's what bothers me."
He cited a lack of execution and finishing possessions at both ends of the court, especially late with games on the line.
"We have played defense well enough, but in the last -- not just a minute -- but the last four to five minutes of a game we're giving up crucial offensive rebounds, or we're having a crucial breakdown defensively."
Baylor coach Scott Drew sat starters Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin but it didn't matter against Hardin-Simmons on Saturday. The Bears (13-5, 4-1) beat the Cowboys 107-38, the largest ever margin of victory for Baylor.
"It was a unique experience because normally this time of year you're not able to play some people that aren't getting a lot of minutes like we were able to," Drew said. "I think that's tremendous for a team because players on the bench don't always get the accolades because they're not playing, but they do so much for the team in practice every day."
Taurean Prince, who is averaging 4.4 points a game in less than 7 minutes a game, led the Bears with 21 points. L.J. Rose, who is averaging less than two points a game, scored 14 in 35 minutes.
After 27 years of coaching, Lon Kruger knows what a really good basketball team looks like. He has Oklahoma playing much better in his second year as the Sooners coach. Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1), which defeated Texas 73-67 Monday night, is off to a better start after going 5-13 in Big 12 play last season.
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