By Mark Rosner
The Longhorn basketball team is easier on the eyes this season than last, but that doesn’t mean many actually are watching in person.
Through four home games, all Longhorn victories, actual turnstile attendance at the Erwin Center – as opposed to tickets sold – has ranged from 2,741 against Houston Baptist to 4,018 for Mercer on opening night. The count for Stephen F. Austin was 3,539. A game against South Alabama attracted 3,087.
The attendance for Houston Baptist, Mercer and South Alabama were the three lowest turnouts since the American-Statesman began tracking turnstile count game by game during the 2006-07 season.
One likely factor in the diminished attendance is that season ticket sales plummeted after the Longhorns missed the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since Rick Barnes became coach in 1998. This year’s count, 6,305, is a reduction of 1,259 from last season. Season ticket purchases decreased by 1,155 the previous three years combined.
Unexpected accuracy: Perimeter shooting is supposed to be a weakness for the Longhorns this season, and it might still become one. But so far, the Longhorns have converted 41.3 percent of their 3-point attempts, which is excellent. The national average is always in the mid-30s.
Only two Longhorns have provided much of a sample through four games. Forward Jonathan Holmes had hit 8 of 16, double his 25 percent accuracy from last season. And guard Javan Felix is 6 for 18, a 33 percent mark that is nothing special but better than the 25.5 percent he hit last season.
One sign of early encouragement, albeit based on limited data, is that sophomore Connor Lammert has hit 4 of 6 treys, while freshmen Damarcus Croaker and Martez Walker are 4 for 8 and 3 for 6, respectively.
Consistent so far: Holmes, the team’s leading scorer with a 15-point average, has reached double figures in all four games. And his overall shooting accuracy, 52.4 percent, is impressive, especially when considering that 16 of his 42 attempts have been 3-pointers. Holmes, a poor free throw shooter last season – 58.9 percent – has hit 8 of 9 so far.