UT is President's pick, but is change on the way?
The one-liners for Thursday's 8:35 p.m. matchup featuring the former No. 1 Horns, who went 7-9 in their last 16, and the Decons, who've lost five of six are piling up:
*Now there's two teams in need of a Wake (bada-bing).
*New Orleans is the perfect site, they're great at funerals (bada-boom).
OK, you get the point.
For the past two months, Texas has been singing the same tune. A fresh start is all it needs. If it can just put it all together its collective talent will take over. Well, it just hasn't happened. Now they get one more chance to make good on a season that initially looked like Final Four or bust.
Texas coach Rick Barnes still thinks one game -- one play, even -- can turn momentum -- especially in the NCAA tournament.
"We see it happen all the time. We see teams come into [the tournament] that have been down and out and they catch it and they kind of ride the wave," Barnes said. "And there’s other teams that come in with a lot of pressure on them and maybe not play to win as opposed to just trying to keep from losing and those are the teams that can be bit a little bit. So yeah, momentum is a big part of it and I think confidence; so yeah, I do think that this time of year one game here or there, one play here or there, can really swing it."
Maybe it can. Maybe Texas drew the perfect foe in a Wake Forest team that's won just once since Feb. 13.
But, Texas' issues seem to run too deep. They've dealt with offensive inefficiency, poor perimeter defense and a bizarre quality in which the team splinters when adversity strikes in a game with no recourse to pull it back together. Whether two months of team breakdowns that's often left Barnes grasping for explanations can be fixed overnight would leave some skeptical.
Some are so tired of discussing the slide from No. 1 to the ranks of the unranked they're done discussing it: "No comment on that," forward Damion James said.
Others can't stop analyzing the issues. Just listen to Texas junior Gary Johnson, who believes momentum can swing, but it will take more than some New Orleans voodoo.
"I think it can, but guys have to be willing to buy into it. I think we are," Johnson said. "It’s not the fact that we’re a selfish team, it’s just the basketball IQ of a lot of players aren’t as high. With that being said, we try to cover it up by running certain sets for guys and try to keep the focal point on certain aspects of the game instead of having a free-wheeling type of offense."
In the end, Barnes said, you're left with hope.
"Again, you hope. You hope they grow. What you want this time of year is energy I think more than anything. I think attitude is important as anything right now, that you're excited. I think you have to be rested both mentally and physically.
"But, yeah, you hope."
The winner will likely face No. 1 Kentucky, which plays No. 16 East Tennessee State at 6 p.m.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Bob Stoops' recent comments about the SEC and the pending college football playoff, what appears to be an unpredictable Big 12 in 2013, how the Aggies will handle expectations and more.
Play Podcast Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the improvements being made to Kyle Field, what those improvements will to for the program, the success of last year, Johnny Manziel's offseason and the expectations for the Aggies in 2013.
Play Podcast Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Texas A&M's decision to expand its stadium and say although the Aggies had a fantastic year, the school must also be careful not to overextend its resources based on a single hot stretch.
Play Podcast Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.
Play Podcast Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.
Play Podcast Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his school's Cinderella story and playing in the Sweet 16 at Cowboys Stadium.
Play Podcast Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins Fizsimmons & Durrett to discuss Cowboys Stadium as a venue, the state of Big 12 basketball, the new 2014 college football format, why there's no hurry to have a Big 12 football championship and much more.
Play Podcast Jay Bilas joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, the intrigue surrounding the Northwest Region and the excitement over FGCU, even though a similar story happens every year.