For the first time in more than three weeks, No. 15 Texas will be the favorite Tuesday night when it takes to the court at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth.
The Longhorns, who have now reeled off four consecutive upsets over ranked opponents, will take on last-placed TCU (9-11, 0-8 Big 12) at 7 p.m.
“I think we’re in a pretty good place,” junior forward Jonathon Holmes said. “We’ve won six in a row, including four against top-25 teams, so we’re in a pretty good place. We’ve got some pretty good momentum. We just got to keep getting better and get ready for TCU.”
Texas (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved up 10 spots — the biggest jump of any team — in this week’s AP Top-25 poll and now sits comfortably in second place in the conference.
That comfort, combined with the fact that the Longhorns are overwhelming favorites against the Horned Frogs, is what has some labeling tonight’s contest as a dreaded “trap game.”
Texas has used its energy and underdog mentality to overpower opponents throughout its current the winning streak. Now, as the hunter rather than the hunted, Texas must maintain that intensity.
“It is such a fine line between winning and losing,” Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. “If you start drinking the poison and think that you are there, it all gets away. We have a long way to go.”
Drinking the proverbial poison is certainly something the Longhorns have to be conscious of, but, given the way they’ve been performing lately, they have reason to be confident.
Led by freshman guard Isaiah Taylor, Barnes’ squad looked unstoppable in its romp of No. 6 Kansas on Saturday. Texas dominated the Jayhawks from the opening tip to the final whistle and displayed a confidence nobody could’ve expected from such a young bunch.
“It was a big learning process for me, taking on a leadership role in the team,” Taylor said. “I had a tough stretch at the beginning of the Big 12. [My teammates] have just been encouraging me on and off the court. Just keep it going. Just keep attacking the basket.”
Taylor’s aggressiveness and confidence driving to the basket have been the main source of his recent success. The speedy point guard was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Monday, after posting 23 points against Kansas. That performance came only a week after he scored a career-high 27 on the road against Baylor.
Sophomore guard Javan Felix, who takes turns running the offense alongside Taylor, will be forced to sit out tonight’s game after suffering a concussion against Kansas. Felix’s absence will likely mean additional minutes and even greater responsibility for Taylor.