Dallas Colleges: Javan Felix

Texas' team commitment pays off in end

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
2:10
AM CT

MILWAUKEE -- Many teams create watchwords before the season or the NCAA tournament, corny but commendable slogans that look good on dry-erase boards or in Twitter hashtags.

Few teams follow through on them. Even fewer do so the way Texas did Thursday night.

Three days earlier, Longhorns players and coaches had brainstormed three guiding principles for their tournament quest: fundamentals, team and win. The fundamentals lacked at times against Arizona State, as Texas committed 24 fouls and allowed too many open looks for the Sun Devils in the second half. But the Longhorns were the ultimate team, especially down the stretch, and they prevailed with an 87-85 win.

Cameron Ridley's acrobatic putback a flicker before the horn punctuated the victory and led off the highlights, as it should, but Texas' final four baskets all came on second-chance efforts, as Ridley and forward Jonathan Holmes combined for 10 offensive rebounds. There were fortunate bounces, but Texas repeatedly capitalized on them.

The Longhorns had six players score in double figures -- all five starters and freshman guard Martez Walker, who had a career-high 16. There are no Kevin Durants or T.J. Fords on the team that brought back Texas basketball and rescued coach Rick Barnes. Texas has many contributors, and it needed them all against an Arizona State team that controlled play after falling behind by 14 with 12:11 to play.

"We know we need everybody," guard Isaiah Taylor said. "Other teams, they always have two leading scorers. We know that anybody on our team can lead us in scoring on any given night. You can rely on everybody for confidence. All five of us can score, so we can pass it to anybody and everybody can create for themselves."

Thursday marked the sixth game this season in which Texas had at least five players score in double figures. The Longhorns adhere to the motto INAM -- It's Not About Me -- but as guard Javan Felix notes, it means to "selfishly attack your role."

[+] EnlargeCameron Ridley
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCameron Ridley, who made the game-winning shot for Texas, goes on the offensive in the second half.
"Before the game, we just talked about fighting," Felix said. "On those two plays, you just saw how hard we fought."

Arizona State led 83-82 with 35 seconds left when Felix fired a 3-pointer from the corner. The problem: it only went about 19 feet. As soon as he released it, he started shouting, "Short! Short!"

Fortunately, Holmes heard him, caught the air ball, scored and drew a foul.

"That's my assist," Felix said, smiling.

Another wayward 3-point attempt, this time by Holmes, appeared to send the game to overtime. But the 285-pound Ridley cut through the lane, caught the ball near his ankles and banked it in with his left hand, just outside the reach of Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski.

Ridley's first buzzer-beater at any level -- "The ball was never in my hands for that situation," he said -- came on the biggest stage.

"Arizona State players were crashing the boards, and I saw a small opening, so I took it," Ridley said. "The ball just happened to bounce my way, and I got the shot up as quick as possible."

Officials reviewed the play to make sure Ridley got the shot off in time. He had no doubt.

"Positive," he said. "Right when I released it, I started screaming. I knew I took the team to the next round."

A top-10 recruit with superb shot-blocking ability and touch around the basket, Ridley could be Texas' next megastar. Thursday night, he was simply one of several capable options who came through.

"Six people in double figures," Felix said. "That's the pure example of team."

The seventh-seeded Longhorns advance to face No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. A win will put them past the tournament's first weekend for the first time since an Elite Eight run in 2008.

Taylor joked in the locker room that it was the first time he had seen Barnes happy after a victory this season.

"Great team win," Barnes said. "Really a great team win."

At Texas, there's no other way.

Reality hits Cowboys hard in loss to Texas

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
11:04
PM CT


AUSTIN, Texas -- With less than three minutes left, the taunting was brief and almost merciful.

“Where is Marcus?”

The chant came from a small contingent of Texas fans standing under the basket, and lasted no more than one Oklahoma State possession. In this Frank Erwin Center crowd more than half-gone amid a blowout, everyone could hear it.

“Where is Marcus?”

Marcus Smart wasn’t in the building. As mandated by his three-game suspension, he couldn’t travel with his Cowboys to Austin. And without their star, an Oklahoma State team whose season is spiraling looked even more lost.

[+] EnlargeTexas Longhorns basketball
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsThe Longhorns had plenty to celebrate in their win over the struggling Cowboys.
The Cowboys took their fifth straight loss, this one a 87-68 road beatdown from No. 19 Texas. With or without its star player, this team has now lost six of its last seven games.

“This has nothing to do with Marcus Smart. He wasn’t here tonight,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “So we had to play with what we’ve got. We can’t get caught up in any of that, to be honest with you. I don’t even really want to talk about it. Doesn’t do us any good. This team has to form its own identity and get out there and play.”

The result might’ve been no different had the Pokes had Smart on the court. Texas (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) came out firing and stayed hot throughout, draining 11 3-pointers on the night and leading by as much as 29 at one point.

This one fell apart quickly on Oklahoma State, (16-8, 4-7), which gave up 54 first-half points to a team that had scored a total of 57 and 59 in its previous two games and was missing its top scorer, Jonathan Holmes, to a knee injury.

Going in, Oklahoma State liked its defensive plan in theory. Open up in the zone, defend Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh inside and dare Texas to make tough shots from long range.

The result: The Longhorns ran off to leads as big as 36-14, 49-25 and 54-28 en route to a season-best half. Javan Felix answered the challenge, dropping 17 of his game-high 27 in the first half and hitting a career-high six 3-pointers.

“Give Texas credit. They’re a team that’s last in the Big 12 in 3-pointers made and they go out and make 11 threes,” Ford said. “So they played well, they made shots, they did a great job moving the ball.”

Ford liked how his team responded in the second half, with more physical defense and better aggression on both ends, but there was no chipping away at a 21-point halftime deficit.

“We just waited until the second half to start playing how we know how to play,” OSU center Kamari Murphy said. “It was too late by then.”

In three weeks, Oklahoma State has gone from No. 9 in the nation to unranked and eighth place in the Big 12, a staggering slide that got worse Saturday when Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr at the end of a 65-61 loss in Lubbock and received a three-game ban as punishment.

“There was no way I would’ve thought we would’ve won the game the way we did. They’ve got a good team and it’s a tough situation for them,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I really feel for Travis and their team. This is a team that, you talk about Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong has. But there’s still a lot of basketball left to play.”

Ford isn’t making excuses, but the days following that incident haven’t been easy. The Cowboys didn’t practice on Sunday and arrived in Austin late on Monday after a flight delay. They got in just one practice, around 6 p.m. Monday, to prepare for their stint without Smart.

Add up the loss of Smart, starting center Michael Cobbins (ruptured Achilles) and guard Stevie Clark, who was dismissed from the program last week, and you’re left with a brutally thin team in need of help.

OSU had no bench players averaging more than 1 point per game available on Tuesday, and just six players who averaged more than 5 minutes per game in Big 12 play.

“I hope we will be better Saturday as far as comfortability,” Ford said. “We had guys out there who hadn’t played very much.”

Added Murphy: “We knew that we would have to get extreme effort from other players that we aren’t used to.”

And now Oklahoma State is staring down a fate the program can’t get used to: Missing the NCAA tournament for a third time in four years. The road ahead doesn’t look any easier and it starts with a meeting with rival Oklahoma on Saturday.

“We’re going through a tough time right now,” Murphy said. “I think everybody in the locker room still has their head in winning. We’re not down, not blaming nobody else, not making excuses. We just have to find some way on the team, somewhere in our heart, to win a game.”

The question after Tuesday isn’t really, “Where is Marcus?” No, the better question is: Who are these Cowboys without him? They received a brutal and honest answer on Tuesday.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas 64, Texas 59

January, 19, 2013
1/19/13
4:00
PM CT

AUSTIN, Texas -- A few quick thoughts from Kansas’ 64-59 rally at Texas …

Overview: Kansas has rarely been tested this season. And when the Jayhawks have been, much more often than not they have proven to be up to the challenge. Saturday presented another of those challenges as No. 4 Kansas had to rally from 10-points down in the second half to beat lowly Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas' win streak has been extended to 15. The Jayhawks are atop the Big 12 with a 3-0 record and are 16-1. Texas (8-9) has started the Big 12 with four straight conference losses for the first time in Rick Barnes' 15 seasons.

Turning point: For most of the game Naadir Tharpe remained silent. But he picked the right time to make some noise. The sophomore guard hit a crucial 3-pointer to pull Kansas within one, 53-52 with 4:35 left in the game. Feeding off that emotion, Kansas picked it up on the defensive end as Jeff Withey swatted away Javan Felix's next attempt. That led to a dunk by Ben McLemore and to a lead for the Jayhawks. Texas briefly regained that lead, but KU proved to have too much momentum and talent down the stretch.

Kansas key player: As he has done almost all season (save for the Michigan State game) McLemore provided a consistent scoring punch for the Jayhawks. The freshman, who is on pace to become to the highest scoring KU freshman, had 16 points. He averages 16.4 points per game.

Texas key player: When the Longhorns got on a roll, it was largely because of Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore forward was saddled with two early fouls, but he came back in the second half to key an 11-0 run. In that run, Holmes had seven points and created a steal that led to another Texas bucket. Holmes fouled out with 2 minutes to go and finished with 10 points.

Noteworthy number: Kansas did not climb to better than 40 percent shooting until there was 1:15 remaining in the game. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent in the first half. That's two straight games now for KU that the shooting percentage has been questionable. The Jayhawks shot 38 percent in a win against Baylor.

Etc...: Kansas game into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring margin at 17.4 per game. The Jayhaws didn't take more than a two-possession lead against Texas until there was 1:16 remaining.

Next up: The biggest game of the Big 12 season is next for Kansas. The Jayhawks, who have won 15 straight, will head to No. 16 Kansas State on Tuesday. Texas, 0-4 in the conference, will be at Oklahoma on Monday.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12 hoops

January, 5, 2013
1/05/13
10:30
AM CT
As conference play begins this week, it has become pretty obvious that Kansas is best team in the Big 12. Again.

But who comes next?

Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State all have solid squads with somewhat similar resumes. Ranking those four schools -- and the rest of the league -- isn’t easy, but here’s how I see things as we near the season’s midway point.

1. Kansas. While most other schools open Big 12 play this week, the Jayhawks will host a Temple squad on Sunday that defeated previously unbeaten Syracuse last month. Point guards Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combine to average 8.1 assists.

2. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys appeared to have Gonzaga beaten on New Year’s Eve in Stillwater before the Zags battled back for a 69-68 victory. Still, the Cowboys -- who got 23 points from Marcus Smart -- should be encouraged by their gutsy performance.

3. Baylor. The Bears have looked much better their past two outings, drubbing BYU at home before falling by seven points against a very strong Gonzaga squad in Spokane, Wash. They can’t afford to lose home games against lesser foes. That includes Texas, which visits Waco on Saturday still without point guard Myck Kabongo.

4. Iowa State. The Cyclones are off until their Big 12 opener at Kansas on Jan. 9. Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee are averaging a combined 27.5 points. Melvin Ejim leads the team with 9.2 rebounds. It’s not absurd to say that Iowa State could finish as high as second in this league.

5. Kansas State. The Wildcats are playing hard for their new coach, Bruce Weber. But it’s not always pretty. K-State has looked mediocre since it defeated Florida Dec. 22 in Kansas City. Weber’s squad is good defensively while ranking 21st in the country in rebounds per game. But K-State has trouble scoring.

6. Texas. Freshman point guard Javan Felix hasn’t been all that bad in replacement of suspended sophomore Kabongo. Felix averages 6.5 assists. The Longhorns (8-5) have some serious work to do in conference play if they hope to keep their streak of 14 consecutive NCAA appearances alive.

7. Oklahoma. The Sooners are good enough to sneak up and beat anyone in this conference. But to contend for a postseason berth, Oklahoma needs to win some games on the road. It all starts Saturday with a tilt against West Virginia in Morgantown.

8. West Virginia. The Big 12’s most disappointing team can’t afford to lose Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma. Transfers Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray combine to average only 21.8 points.

9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will hit the road for the first time this season for Saturday’s game against TCU in Fort Worth. Texas Tech (7-4) is getting 15.2 points per game from Jaye Crockett.

10. TCU. Saturday’s home game against Texas Tech may be the best chance TCU will have at a conference win all season. Sophomore guard Kyan Anderson has been the Horned Frogs’ steadiest player, with 13 points per game.

Wednesday both a win and a loss for Texas

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
12:15
AM CT


AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas suffered its biggest loss of the season on the night it pulled off its biggest win.

Prior to the Longhorns' 85-67 victory over No. 23 North Carolina at the Frank Erwin Center, point guard Myck Kabongo was ruled ineligible for the season by the NCAA, barring an appeal, according to sources from within the Texas athletics department. The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.

The loss of Kabongo put a serious dent in this young Texas team's chances of making a 16th consecutive NCAA tournament. But the win against the Tar Heels at least gives the 7-4 Longhorns some hope.

Playing with a true freshman point guard in Javan Felix and only freshmen and sophomores on the court, UT played the role of the aggressor, pushed the more talented and savvy Heels around, built a big lead and -- for the first time this season -- didn't crumble.

"There is process that every student-athlete goes through, and I can only tell you that process is not done. We are in the middle of that process," said Texas coach Rick Barnes of the Kabongo situation. "Every student-athlete is entitled to a process if something comes up, and that process is ongoing."

Kabongo has been under investigation for impermissible benefits concerning a workout that involved agent Rich Paul. According to sources, the penalty was so severe because Kabongo had been less than straightforward when the NCAA initially questioned him.

While Barnes refused to take further questions on Kabongo, North Carolina coach Roy Williams now has plenty of them about his team.

"It was like comedy of errors, except it wasn't very blankety-blank funny," Williams said.

The Tar Heels' defense refused to extend in the first half and allowed Texas to build a 19-point lead. That lead was aided by two straight surprising 3-pointers from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore had made only three shots from beyond the arc in his 10 previous games.

[+] EnlargeJavan Felix
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsFreshman point guard Javan Felix effectively piloted Texas, scoring 8 points with 8 assists.
"We backed off him," Williams said.

And North Carolina continued to back down for most of the night.

"They did a better job of pushing the pace and getting us back on our heels," Williams said. "It seems like they got every loose ball."

There were plenty of those to go around, as Carolina turned it over 18 times. Texas, typically not a solid transition team, scored 14 points off those turnovers.

"Coming into the game, coach Barnes preached to us to getting the ball out and getting back in transition, and that was our game plan along with rebounding -- and that was what we tried to do," Felix said.

"They outran a running team," is how Williams put it.

In fact, Texas struggled only when it went into half-court sets. Starting the second half, North Carolina started to value the basketball more and made more of an effort to keep the Texas offense in front of it. That, coupled with the aggressiveness of James Michael McAdoo (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Reggie Bullock (a career-high 13 rebounds), allowed UNC to cut the lead to four.

Given that Texas has been a team that has struggled down the stretch -- the Longhorns were outscored 13-2 down the stretch in a 65-63 loss to UCLA -- it appeared as if the tide had started to turn.

Until, that is, North Carolina neglected to communicate on defense and allowed Cameron Ridley to throw down an uncontested dunk to push the lead back to seven with 6 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

"We were aggressive and moved the ball pretty well, and some guys knocked some shots down," Barnes said. "But this was a game we thought would be won in transition and on the boards."

Texas didn't win on the boards in the box score (North Carolina had 43 to the Horns' 40). But UT did win in second-chance points with 18, and in fast-break points with 14.

"We have had a couple of tough losses because we had not played as hard as we should," said Holmes, who finished with 15 points and 8 boards. "[Wednesday night], we came out and did what we had to do. We definitely set the bar high for the rest of the season."

Regardless of who might be with Texas for the rest of the season.

--HornsNation writer Max Olson contributed to this report

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