Holmes, adjustments lead Longhorns to win in New York

Evan Berkowitz

NEW YORK CITY — It was a tale of two halves at Madison Square Garden. Iowa came out ready, opening up a double-digit first-half lead. But the Longhorns dominated the second half, outscoring the Hawkeyes by 20 en route to a big win. Here are five things that stood out for Texas — both good and bad:

Offensive adjustments

In the first half, the Texas offense became predictable against the zone, as it looked to “run its offense.” While the bigs were jockeying for position in the post, the guards seemed to enjoy the meaningless passes around the perimeter. Even worse, they were neither ready to shoot nor ready to drive. Because of this, Iowa was able to come up with seven steals in the first half. But the second half was a different story. Head coach Rick Barnes pushed for more drives, and that’s what he got, as sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor and the Texas offense became more aggressive.

Failure to feed the post

All preseason and through the first two games, the Longhorns talked about the confidence and improvement in this team’s outside shooting. That confidence showed, as the Longhorns let 17 shots fly from downtown. Iowa packed in its zone and dared the Longhorns to shoot. Instead, junior center Cameron Ridley attempted just four shots. Freshman forward Myles Turner got few touches down low and in the high post. 

“We got to put it in there,” Barnes said after the contest.

Dominant defense

The Hawkeyes came in as a fast-paced, offensive team that averaged 88.5 points through their first two games. But Texas shut them down, using seven blocks to hold Iowa to a 29.6 shooting percentage. In the second half, when stops were a must, the Longhorns clamped down. Iowa managed to make only 16 field goals in the game. Junior guard Demarcus Holland led the Longhorns on defense, giving fits to Iowa all game — not just with on-the-ball defense but with off-the-ball as well.

Holmes leads his team

Senior guard Jonathan Holmes’ eight straight points in the second half quickly brought Texas back after a sluggish start. While Taylor was impressive in the second half, Holmes was the one who stepped up when the team needed to make a shot. He may not be the flashiest player on the team, but his fundamentals are sound, and he rarely gets fazed by the moment. Even when things are going wrong, he takes responsibility by showing how much calmer and more collected he is than anyone else out there on the floor. And his line showed that, as he went 7-for-12 with 19 points while also hauling in five rebounds. 

Too many fouls

From day one, Barnes was adamant about his team needing to play good defense without fouling. On Thursday, however, they kept fouling. The Longhorns committed 22 fouls and allowed Iowa to take 28 free throws. Even though Iowa struggled from the field, making just 16 field goals, it was able to stay in the game from the charity stripe.