Saturday, December 25, 2010

Texas Poised to Steal Big 12 Title

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The Texas Longhorns (10-2) were selected to finish third in the Big 12 conference by the coaches before the season.

Texas returned four key players in Gary Johnson, J'Covan Brown, Dogus Balbay, and most importantly Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton was looked to fill the void of departed senior Damion James, and has done just that.

Freshman Tristian Thompson, and Cory Joseph only added to the star power and the Longhorns are looking great headed into conference play.

Last year, after an undefeated non-conference slate of games, and No. 1 ranking, Texas lack of a true point guard came back to hunt them.

Heading into Big 12 play this time around, Texas has enough star power to finish atop of the tough Big 12 conference.

Head Coach Rick Barnes has key wins over ranked teams such as Illinois, North Carolina and a huge win on the road against Michigan State.

Frosh Joseph has shown maturity by stepping up and making key plays down the stretch. With the game on the line against North Carolina, Josephs nailed what would be a game winner over Dexter Strickland with 1.4 seconds left.

Coach Barnes has always wanted freshman Josephs to be assertive in the offense, and since stepping up against the Tar Heels, he has become a totally different player.

He averages 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assist per game. He is also a great on-ball defender, and can make garbage plays on both ends of the floor.

His counterpart Thompson hasn't been short from magnificent either. Thompson currently leads the Longhorns in rebounding with eight per game, while chipping in 11.2 points.

Thompson's 17 points, and 15 rebounds helped Texas come up with a huge win on the road against the Spartans. Texas managed to finally hand Michigan State its first loss in 53 tries.

Once James graduated and took his talents to the NBA, coach Barnes immediately turned to his sophomore Hamilton to fill the void. Hamilton has been magnificent for Texas this season, and has shown signs of departed James.

Hamilton has been the biggest success story after being sidelined with injury for most of last year. Hamilton leads Texas in scoring with 19.5 points, while also adding 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assist per game.

In the past two games against worthy opponents, Hamilton has chipped in a total of 45 points, and 18 rebounds.

The x-factor this season is 6-foot-6 senior Johnson. All season, Johnson has come alive on the glass grabbing 7.3 boards per outing. He isn't shy in the scoring column either chipping in 11.8 points per game as well.

Texas latest win over Michigan State helped solidify its dominance as a basketball power. The Longhorns understand who their superstars are and the ball always seems to find them in late game situations.

The Longhorns are currently on a 4-game winning streak that highlights wins over North Carolina, and Michigan State.

Before the Longhorns can even think about a Big 12 title, they'll have a to win it through Kansas and Kansas State. Both of the two are very impressive Big 12 opponents, and could end up with the title when its all said and done.

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