Barnes: Who's In?

Texas coach Rick Barnes talks about this season's struggles, and what he's looking for out of the final few games.

You are what your record says you are. It's an oft-quoted truism in sports, and one cited by Texas coach Rick Barnes after the Longhorns fell to the Kansas State Wildcats at home on Saturday.

"I think the thing that bothers me about it the effort," Barnes said afterward. "Starting from the very beginning. I just didn't I don't understand how our post guys, as much as we emphasized what they had to do, how they didn't do it.

"The bottom line is that question right now, we're 12-15 and 4-10," Barnes said. "So we are who we are."

The hope of most Texas fans all along was for the Longhorns to come out swinging after Myck Kabongo joined the squad, piling up enough wins to get to 18 or 19 and forcing a tough decision on the NCAA selection committee. But with last Saturday's loss to Kansas State, Texas is 2-2 since Kabongo's return, and the best the Longhorns can hit is 16-15 and 8-10 heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

And even after Kabongo returned, the Longhorns continued to make many of the same plays they were making before, turning the ball over in key spots and committing silly fouls while allowing offensive rebounds.

Barnes pointed to Jonathan Holmes fouling Will Spradling on a three-pointer as an example of one of those plays.

It's not playing hard," Barnes said. "You think it is. But it's not. You can't foul three-point shooters. It's those plays.

"It's the mindset where … you're always going uphill," Barnes said. "That's been the toughest thing with these guys. We've never given ourselves a chance for the most part where we're not fighting and scratching for every part."

That scrapping has led Barnes to try a number of different players in a number of different lineups, but mostly to the same result.

"There's not one guy on this team this year that hasn't had a chance," Barnes said. "Not one guy. We've done a lot of different things."

Few have worked. The Longhorns have beaten who they were supposed to beat in TCU (twice) and Texas Tech, and stole a close game at home against Iowa State. But Texas was also swept by one of the worst West Virginia teams in recent years and lost by double digits to Kansas State (twice), to Oklahoma State at home and Kansas and Iowa State on the road.

But even those losses weren't as bad as tough defeats to UCLA and Baylor and Kansas and West Virginia in Austin. The Longhorns led all of those games late but couldn't finish.

Finishing has become a point of emphasis for Barnes. He told the Longhorn players they'd have to finish long possessions defensively against Kansas State, only to have the Wildcats shoot a fantastic 48.1 percent from the field, including 50 percent from behind the arc.

Now, finishing takes on more of a macro meaning. Texas is done as an at-large NCAA Tournament candidate, but the Longhorns still have a puncher's chance — or a Lloyd Christmas chance — if they can come together and win the Big 12 Tournament in March. But whether Texas wins out in Kansas City or not, Barnes will keep an eye on how the team finishes.

"Who's in?" Barnes asked. "When it goes like this, you'll find out who checks out. If they check out, decisions will be made."

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