Second-half burst pushes Texas past Iowa at Madison Square Garden

Peter Sblendorio

NEW YORK CITY — Senior forward Jonathan Holmes accepted much of the blame for the Longhorns’ first-half struggles against Iowa.

But he also deserved most of the credit for the team’s second-half turnaround.

Holmes opened the second half with a dunk, a three-pointer and an and-one lay-in on Texas’ first three possessions to overcome a shaky first half and lead the Longhorns to a 71-57 victory over Iowa at Madison Square Garden.

After scoring just two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half, Holmes went 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the arc, after halftime to finish with a team-high 19 points.

“My teammates were looking for me and doing the things we did in practice,” Holmes said. “We started executing, and we were able to get a lead.”

This didn’t stop Holmes from being disappointed in the way he started the game, however, and he said the team’s first-half issues began with him.

“I think it starts with me,” Holmes said. “Being the oldest guy on the team, I wasn’t as aggressive as I should’ve been. I was a little tentative, and I started slow, and, as a result, I think we all started slow.”

The Longhorns connected on just 10-of-31 shots while turning the ball over nine times in the first half. They were just 2-for-10 from beyond the three-point arc, and, despite limiting the Hawkeyes to 25 percent shooting form the field in the first half, they trailed 30-24 at halftime.

Luckily for Texas, Holmes broke out of his slump and helped energize the stagnant Texas offense. The Longhorns shot 60.7 percent from the field after halftime and made 4-of-7 three-point attempts.

They cashed in on seven of their first eight shot attempts in the second half, and, after taking a 45-43 lead on sophomore guard Kendal Yancy’s lay-in with 13:40 remaining, they never looked back.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor also overcame a rough first half to finish the game with 15 points. After shooting just 1-for-7 in the first half, Taylor connected on each of his four attempts in the second half.

“It was something I had to get over,” Taylor said of his first-half struggles. “Just maturing as a point guard and maturing as a leader on this team and not letting the first half affect me.”

Freshman forward Myles Turner had the quietest game of his short Texas career, turning in just five points after scoring in double figures in each of his first two games. Junior guard Javan Felix enjoyed his best game of the season, scoring 11 points while grabbing four rebounds.

Despite their early struggles against Iowa, the Longhorns came away with a win in their first true test of the season and will play for a 2K Classic championship Friday.

“We’ve got a big game tomorrow night that we’re just focusing on,” Holmes said. “That’s the biggest thing on our minds right now.”