Every chance Rick Barnes and his team had, they said that they can still get better.
That was two weeks ago. The Longhorns were on an 11-game winning streak in which they were blowing out opponents. They were No. 2 in the nation and what seemed like a lock for a Big 12 championship and top seed in the NCAA tournament.
At the time, it was difficult to believe that Texas could get much better.
Now, it’s pretty obvious.
The Longhorns have lost three out of their last four games. They will likely fall out of the top 10 when the new polls are released on Monday. They are now the team needing help from others to try to claim a Big 12 championship. And their easy road to the Final Four has become difficult.
Luckily for the Longhorns, there is no BCS that determines the best team in the country. Texas will be in the NCAA tournament, and it should have a favorable road. But can it take advantage of its opportunity and return to its impressive play from what seems like months ago?
Well, it depends.
It depends on Jordan Hamilton.
Hamilton has shot 15-58 from the field in the Longhorns three Big 12 losses. That’s not going to get the job done.
“We just have to make shots,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton has at times gone back to his freshman ways in taking wild shots. J’Covan Brown has been guilty of doing the same.
It depends on the mentality.
The Longhorns will be coming off four days of rest before playing Baylor on Saturday. Cory Joseph admitted after the loss to Kansas State that not everyone had been there mentally for the entire game.
Baylor took advantage of Texas’ inability to play a complete game and gave the Longhorns a late scare when they first met in Austin on Feb. 12.
This time, the Bears, like Colorado and Nebraska, are in a must-win situation. Baylor is another one of those teams that could use a win against a top-10 opponent to boost its resume and possibly squeeze into the Field of 68.
And it depends on defense.
“We just gotta come in and play Texas basketball, and we’ll be all right,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is referring to the Texas basketball that shuts down opponents. Not the one that has allowed 78 points per game in the recent losses. Not the one that has been slow to rotate and help out when an opposing player gets by. And not the team that gets pushed around by big men.
Fortunately for Texas, championships are won in March (and the first week of April). What happened in February is in the past. It doesn’t matter that the last two times on the road, the fans have stormed the court. Whatever cold streak a shooter is on, is old news. If there is ever a time for a team to start getting hot, it’s now.
Let the madness begin.