Texas likely had its greatest regular season win in school history Saturday.
The Longhorns beat a team that even at halftime of Saturday’s game was being called the best in the nation. They beat Kansas at home — something that Texas had never done and something that no other team had done in four years.
And if that’s not enough, the Longhorns are now in sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
But it’s way too early to start talking about Big 12 Championships and Final Fours. The Longhorns are only a quarter of the way into the conference schedule and realize there is still much work to do.
“It’s old news now,” forward Tristan Thompson said only minutes after the win.
While the Longhorns can have a little time to celebrate, they know they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.
Up next for Texas is a matchup with pesky Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Follow that with a once top 10 Missouri team that is coming to Austin and then a rematch with the Aggies in College Station.
None of those games are locks by any means.
The Longhorns are now entering every game with a label as a top team. All remaining away games are going to be nuts, especially with the newly added resentment across the Big 12 towards Texas with the announcement of the Longhorn Network.
Teams are going to want to beat Texas more than ever now.
Luckily for the Longhorns, they won’t be fazed by it.
Texas has played in some of the wildest environments in college basketball. From Lawrence to East Lansing, the Longhorns have proven that they can play anywhere, except maybe in Los Angeles.
The Longhorns have worked their way from unranked at the beginning of the season to one of the best teams in the country. Opposing coaches continue to praise the Longhorns after seeing them in person.
“I personally think Texas is really good, good enough to win a national championship,” said Kansas head coach Bill Self. “I really do. I think they’re one of the best five teams in the country right now, hands down.”'
UConn’s Jim Calhoun, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel were impressed by how physical the Longhorns played.
The physical play of the Longhorns was a deciding factor in the win against Kansas. Texas got to the free throw line 31 times — 13 more attempts than Kansas — and made 26 of them.
Though double-teamed nearly every time he got the ball, Thompson still managed to create. Senior forward Matt Hill came off the bench — and though the stats may not look impressive (zero points, four rebounds and five fouls) — he had maybe his best game of the year.
When senior forward Gary Johnson was struggling at times, Hill would come in and make every shot difficult for Marcus and Markieff Morris.
The Longhorns’ physicality hasn’t only come in the post. Guard Cory Joseph almost always defends his man all the way down the court. He won’t allow his man to get the inbounds pass. Same goes for senior guard Dogus Balbay, who sophomore guard Jordan Hamilton calls the best defender in the country.
The Texas defense as a whole has been impressive. Its opponents are shooting 37 percent from the field — fourth best in the nation. On Saturday, they held the top shooting team in the country to 35 percent, even after it started the game on a 14-for-25 clip.
It’s hard to lose when the other team can’t make shots.