Texas-Kansas St. Preview
Now that opponents view Texas as one of the teams to beat, the Longhorns are starting to realize how difficult the role of favorite can be in the Big 12.
After holding on against the league's worst team, Texas faces a tougher test Saturday at Kansas State, which is looking to get back on track with its 12th straight home win.
The No. 15 Longhorns will try to keep pace in the Big 12 with their eighth consecutive victory, though it'll take their first win at Bramlage Coliseum in almost six years.
Perhaps experiencing a bit of a letdown following an 81-69 win over then-No. 6 Kansas last Saturday, Texas struggled against league-worst TCU on Tuesday before Jonathan Holmes hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining to key a 59-54 victory.
"We've got to understand that we put ourselves in position to win a Big 12 championship but we also need to understand that teams are going to be looking to beat us every night," Holmes said. "We've turned into a team's big win."
Following an 0-2 start, the Longhorns (18-4, 7-2) extended their winning streak to seven and remain one game behind the first-place Jayhawks entering the second half of league play.
Holmes, who had 20 points and a career-high 16 rebounds Tuesday, made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Texas to a 67-64 home win over then-No. 22 Kansas State on Jan. 21.
The Longhorns, 5-1 on the road, limited the Wildcats (15-7, 5-4) to 42.6 percent shooting and 4 of 16 from 3-point range in that contest. They also held the Horned Frogs to 32.7 percent Tuesday and lead the Big 12 with a 39.4 defensive field-goal percentage.
Since allowing 175 points while losing their first two Big 12 contests, the Longhorns have given up an average of 65.1 during the win streak.
Texas, however, will try to bounce back offensively after scoring a season low and shooting a season-worst 31.0 percent Tuesday. It could prove a difficult task against Kansas State, which has allowed a league-low 62.0 points per game.
Making matters worse, the Longhorns may be without third-leading scorer Javan Felix (concussion) after he sat out Tuesday. Felix led the way with 23 points, while Cameron Ridley added 18 in last month's win over K-State.
Although the Wildcats have dropped four straight on the road, they haven't lost at home since Northern Colorado pulled off a 60-58 upset in the season opener.
Kansas State has dropped three of four overall after shooting 50.8 percent from the field but just 8 for 19 from the foul line in an 81-71 loss at West Virginia last Saturday. Marcus Foster finished with 20 points and Thomas Gipson had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats, who rank last in the Big 12 with a 64.4 free-throw percentage.
"We need to execute better, I need to help our players and everybody needs to do a better job," coach Bruce Weber said.
Gipson finished with 24 points in the first matchup with the Longhorns and scored a team-high 17 on 7-of-10 shooting in an 83-57 win in the most recent meeting in Manhattan on Jan. 30, 2013.
The Wildcats have won three straight home meetings in this series, including a 71-62 victory over top-ranked Texas on Jan. 18, 2010. They've also won four of five there against ranked opponents dating to last season.