Coming off their best win of the season against No. 8 Kansas, the Longhorns have suddenly found some momentum and have won five of their last six. Are you buying that this Texas team is now ready for a deep run in March?
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - The last few weeks have told us that this Texas team can win ugly, win pretty, but most importantly they can win. Final four team? I wouldn’t go that far, not until I see how they match up against Baylor but if Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr continue to play like they’ve been playing, Texas is on the right track to actually win a tournament game!
Abram Orlansky (@waorlansky) - Here’s a weasel answer for you: maybe! If they can show scoring 79 against Kansas despite a dismal night from beyond the arc was not a fluke, then absolutely. If that scoring performance was nothing more than a turnover- and offensive-rebound-fueled blip that they struggle to recreate, I have a hard time predicting a big run in the Dance — with all caveats about the Tournament and randomness of course. That said, Texas is also capable of getting there via leveling up even more on the defensive end, a la the great low-scoring but elite-defending Virginia teams of the mid/late 2010s (historic 2018 tournament loss notwithstanding).
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge)- It seems like they may be finding their stride. I complained on the podcast for weeks that it felt like Texas was still trying to figure out who it was offensively. The last two games have felt like a more coherent offensive vision, especially as they found success playing faster than they normally like to against Kansas. We’ve now seen three consecutive good halves of basketball – the second half against Iowa State and the entire game against Kansas – so it’s starting to feel like they’re figuring it out and getting hot at the right time.
Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) – One of the things that Chris Beard has said consistently is that Texas is a work in progress. They’ve made the most significant progress of the season in those last six games and now, of the 10 most similar resumes on barttorvik.com, four of those comparisons made the Sweet 16 and one made the Final Four. But two of those teams missed the tournament altogether and three more lost in the first round as four or five seeds. Although missing the tournament seems unlikely right now, the key for the Horns is to maintain the recent consistency over the next several games – as last season demonstrated clearly, one-off game means an early exit.
The Longhorns have sneakily won their last four home games, with three of those against ranked opponents. Has Chris Beard built a…home court advantage??
Cameron - I think so. It’s not a home-court advantage like KU, Duke, or UNC obviously but it’s got to be weird for opponent Big 12 teams to actually hear noise coming from Texas fans. No matter what happens this season with the Longhorns, you have to give Coach Beard credit for getting students in the Erwin Center. Hell, give him credit for getting the season-ticket holders back in the Erwin Center. Three home games remain in the Drum, including ranked Baylor and Texas Tech. The Horns will need a good crowd on deck and oddly I’m confident there will be one.
Abram - Kind of seems like it! It’s the consistency over the last few games for me. Back in the peak Barnes years, any conference game was certain to have a full lower level and at least mostly full upper level. The Erwin Center is too large to expect sellouts all the time no matter how good the team is, but that issue is relevant only for a couple more weeks. I think he has, on this front, accomplished exactly what he set out to in this first year: drive ticket demand high enough where you can still get a seat this season, but a Texas basketball ticket is a hot commodity in the 10,000-seat Moody Center come fall.
Gerald - I’ve seen one-off games where Texas fans showed up and were hyped for a matchup in the Drum, but Texas is averaging nearly 15,000 fans over the last three games. That’s up from 12,600 in the previous three-game stretch, which I honestly was already impressed with. There’s something to be said about winning and playing marquee games in an effort to send the Erwin Center out in style.
Wescott – He has. Off the court, Beard has done a superlative job building relationships with students. On the court, his team has played well enough to get season ticket holders to show up, along with other rank-and-file fans. The atmosphere at the Erwin Center has been at a consistently high level over those games for the first time in more than a decade. It’s been as fun to watch as the performances by the Longhorns.
Following the court storming after the Horns win over Kansas, some Texas fans (and former players) voiced an opinion that “Texas fans should never rush the court.” Agree or disagree?
Cameron - They can do whatever they want in my opinion, I’m just happy to see students invested in the basketball program! Football and baseball? Different story. But basketball doesn’t have the success behind it like football and baseball. Texas fans expect to win because, well, it’s Texas but outside of the 2003 Final Four appearance, the Horns hadn’t gone that far since 1947! Plus, Coach Beard encourages court-storming (Not sure CDC does when it costs $25,000) and it’s bringing life back to the Drum. If Texas beats Baylor, go ahead and storm it.
Abram - Hard disagree. The baseball program famously has a long-standing rule that they don’t dogpile anywhere but Omaha. But Texas baseball is arguably the only program that can claim to be elite in both the historical and modern versions of the sport. The basketball program has a history and status best described as “solid.” A program that has never won a national title, and made one final four since 1947, doesn’t get to act like it’s above celebrating a big win over a blue-blooded rival. I think Beard’s ultimate vision is to get to the point where rushing the court is out of the question. But we’re not there yet.
Gerald - I’m of two minds on this, both of them disagree but for different reasons. I have openly said that the level of fan expectations for Texas basketball is inconsistent with the level of fan support, so the fact that there are even fans in the building who care enough to storm the court is the first reason I disagree with this. Secondly, Texas basketball doesn’t have NEARLY the history that baseball and football have when making these arguments. You can act like you’ve been there before when you’ve actually been there before.
Wescott – Disagree. The scene after the win over Kansas was one of the coolest I’ve seen in almost 20 years of following Texas basketball, for the students and for the players, who were clearly thrilled to have that experience. Obviously, the goal is to play well enough for a long enough period of time that only the biggest games warrant a court storming. If the Longhorns pull out another thrilling victory over the Red Raiders or the Bears in the final men’s basketball game at the Erwin Center, would that warrant another court storming? There needs to be some level of restraint here, but I’m not sure I would blame the students for either one of those hypothetical situations. And I think Texas would happily pay the fines, too.