Head Coach: Rick Barnes
2014-15 record: 5-0
AP Ranking: 7
USA Today Ranking: 9
Texas has looked like one of the best teams in the country, winning all five games by an average margin of 25.8 PPG. While people may think that it is too early to tell, Texas looked impressive shutting down potential NCAA Tournament teams Iowa and California in the 2k Classic at MSG. After being down by 6 at halftime to Iowa in the semi-finals, senior Jonathon Holmes took over the game, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half leading to a 71-57 victory. In the finals, Texas held Cal to just 31.3% shooting en route to a 71-55 victory.
Unfortunately for head coach Rick Barnes, starting point guard Isaiah Taylor is out 4-6 weeks due to a wrist injury. In three games, the sophomore was averaging 15.0 PPG including a 15 point performance against Iowa. While the injury hurts, the Longhorns still have enough depth to continue to compete with the best teams in the nation. Defense and rebounding helps, as they have held opponents to only 52.2 PPG, which ranks 14th in the nation while ranking 1st in defensive rebounds at 33.8.
#10 Jonathon Holmes, Senior, Forward (6-8, 240): The team's leading healthy scorer at 13.4 PPG. Holmes is also asserting himself on the glass, pulling down 7.2 RPG. The senior, who has been more of a power forward in past seasons, made the transition to play the wing due to the Longhorns' frontcourt depth, including freshman phenom Myles Turner. Holmes improved his shooting, ballhandling, passing, and ability to play away from the rim in the offseason. This has translated to a very high percentage in the Longhorns' first five games: 59.5% from the field and 4-7 from three. There is no one more important to Texas than Holmes, and he is a huge reason why they are off to a 5-0 start. In the 2K Classic, he scored 40 total points on 13-23 shooting, including a 21 point, 13 rebound performance against California in the finals.
#52 Myles Turner, Freshman, Center (6-11, 240): The No. 2 ranked overall recruit in the Class of 2014 (behind Jahlil Okafor), Turner has been as good as advertised. He is averaging 12.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.6 BPG, while shooting an absurd 65.8% from the field. And he comes off the bench! Rick Barnes has been easing the big man into the flow of the college game. Despite his impressive numbers, Turner has shown that he is still going to need time to develop.. He committed 4 fouls in both of Texas' major tests this season, Iowa and California, while shooting a combined 2-11 from the field. With that being said, he has great post moves, touch around the basket, and can step away from the hoop to hit an open jump shot. Add that with his shot blocking, and he is an opposing team's nightmare. In the Longhorns' latest game, Turner dominated in all facets, scoring 25 points on 11-12 shooting, pulling down 10 rebounds, and recording 3 blocks.
#3 Javan Felix, Junior, Guard (5-11, 195): Inserted into the starting lineup now that Isaiah Taylor is injured. Felix is averaging 9.0 PPG with just 2.0 APG, but he will run the half-court offense for Texas as the team's primary ball handler. The junior is not known to be a real scorer, but he came on at the end of last season as a three-point threat. So far this season, he is only shooting 31.3% from deep but can heat up in a hurry. In the 2K Classic, Felix averaged 10.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 3.5 APG, including a 9 point performance in his first start of the season against California. In the Longhorns' last game against St. Francis (PA), he sat out with a sore foot he aggravated in New York, but should be back for the match-up against the Huskies. If he does not play, look for sophomore guard Kendal Yancy to start.
#55 Cameron Ridley, Junior, Center (6-9, 285): The team's leading rebounder from last season. Ridley averaged 8.2 RPG and 11.2 PPG. However, Ridley will most likely take a back seat to Turner this season. The junior has been the starting center for the Longhorns so far and is off to a solid start, averaging 8.8 PPG on 51.6% shooting from the field, 4.4 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in just under 20 MPG. A once McDonald's All-American, Ridley's weight has often held him back from playing at an elite level. The center came into Arlington weighing over 300 pounds his freshman season, but has worked hard to slim down since arriving at Texas. Now at 285, the junior is in better shape, but still needs to work on making his moves quicker, something that has contributed to his 2.4 TPG this season. He is coming off a season-high 16 points on 7-8 shooting against St. Francis (PA).
#2 Demarcus Holland, Junior, Guard (6-2, 190): The team's best defender, Holland is also producing on offense averaging 8.0 PPG on 66.7% shooting. The junior was always matched up against the opponent's best scoring threat last season, and even though he is just 6-2, he would guard the small forward rather than a guard. With Taylor out, look for Holland to defend one of the guard spots, probably Purvis against UConn. In the 2K Classic final against California, the defensive stopper had one of his better offensive games, scoring 11 points with 5 rebounds, including going 7-7 from the charity stripe. If he provides consistent offensive scoring, it is going to be hard for Rick Barnes to take him off the court.
#21 Connor Lammert, Senior Forward (6-9, 240): Texas' hardest working player by far, he is averaging 6.6 PPG on 55.0% shooting, 6.6 RPG, and 2.4 APG. Another player who has provides depth to the Longhorns' front court, Lammert has found himself in the starting lineup for the first five games of the season. While he can bang down low with the big men, the senior also has the ability to step away and knock down a three-pointer as he is 4-9 from deep. In the 2K Classic, Lammert averaged 5.5 PPG on 50% shooting from the field, and 8.5 RPG. Lammert is not called upon to be a major scoring threat. Rather, the senior big man's role is to get rebounds, finish lay-ups, and hit the open jump shot every now and then.
Texas is coached by Rick Barnes who is in his 17th year with the school where he is 387-166. Barnes has only one losing season in all his years at Texas, a 16-18 finish in 2012-13. That season was also the only year under Barnes where the Longhorns failed to make the NCAA Tournament. He has led them to three Elite Eight appearances, including a trip to the Final Four in 2002-03. Before Texas, Barnes was at Clemson for four years where he had one Sweet 16 appearance. Before Clemson, he was the head coach for Providence for six years, where he went 108-76, including three NCAA Tournament appearances. Overall, Barnes is 589-300 as a head coach.