The problem with senior day in college basketball is that it is not conducted by satellite.
The Longhorns will celebrate the annual event Monday night before they face Baylor in the Erwin Center, but their only seniors are a pair of former walk-ons who play almost exclusively in practice: Andrew Dick and Dean Melchionni.
If UT had made the arrangements, fans could salute players who would be seniors had they stuck around:
“Let’s go to Denver first and welcome Jordan Hamilton. He left for the NBA after two seasons as a Longhorn and works as a reserve forward for the Nuggets.”
“Next we have Avery Bradley, in Philadelphia, where his team, the Boston Celtics, will play on Tuesday. Bradley, a guard who played for one season at Texas, is regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA.”
“Now over to Dallas. Some of you might remember Shawn Williams. He left the Longhorns before the first game of his sophomore season and starts at forward for SMU.”
“And finally, sorry that this next picture is a little fuzzy, but that’s J’Covan Brown, who played in Greece last fall after leading the Big 12 in scoring as a junior last season.”
And then on to a game in which the Longhorns (13-16, 5-11 Big 12) can’t turn back the calendar on their season, though maybe they can begin turning the tide against Baylor (17-12, 8-8).
Texas is almost certain to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time during coach Rick Barnes’ 15-season tenure. The Longhorns would need four straight victories next week in the Big 12 tournament to secure the league championship and an automatic spot in the NCAAs. They have not won two in a row since point guard Myck Kabongo returned for the last six games.
But they could accomplish something in their final home game. The Longhorns won 24 straight games against Baylor between 1999 and 2009. Baylor has won seven of the past nine, including three straight.
The Bears beat Texas 86-79 in overtime Jan. 5 in Waco. The Longhorns showed some promise in that one. Freshman point guard Javan Felix scored 26 points, including the first four in overtime by the Longhorns. He passed for nine assists with just one turnover.
“But it didn’t matter because we lost,” Felix said.
He contributed to that. He forced, and missed, a couple of shots after making the first two in overtime. And he was guarding Pierre Jackson when the Baylor senior scored 11 points in overtime. Felix and the Longhorn big men failed to properly defend the ball screens Jackson used to drive into the lane.
The UT big men had other difficulties in that game. Cory Jefferson, Baylor’s 6-foot-9-inch junior, scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot freshman, had 18 points and 12 rebounds – six on offense.
That was one of several close games the Longhorns have lost. They are 3-7 in games decided by six points or fewer or in overtime. But they have won their last two close ones — beating both Iowa State and Oklahoma in overtime — since Kabongo’s return.
Baylor, though more experienced than Texas, is 1-7 in games decided by five points or fewer. But the Bears do have that seven-point win against the Longhorns.
Now the Longhorns get a shot at payback, for that game and others the past five seasons, even if there are no seniors around to help.
Baylor at Texas, 8 p.m., ESPN, 1300, 98.1
*assists per game
*assists per game
About this game: The Bears (17-12, 8-8 Big 12) lost to Kansas State 64-61 Saturday in Waco, their fifth defeat in the past six games, leaving themselves desperate to enhance their chances of an invitation to the NCAAs. They finish the regular season Saturday against Kansas in Waco.