After a 10-day hiatus, Bahamian Kai Jones and the nationally number five ranked Texas Longhorns (11-2, 5-1 Big 12) returned to the court last night, facing another ranked team in the Oklahoma Sooners (9-4, 5-3 Big 12). The game was held on the Longhorns’ home court at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, but the result was unavailable up to press time.
For Jones, it was an even longer break for him as he missed the team’s previous game, a 15-point home victory for Texas over Kansas State University (KSU), due to quarantine measures. Jones has tested negative for COVID-19, but has been exposed to a positive case, and was therefore required to quarantine for 7-10 days. He was set to return last night.
However, not available for the Longhorns was Head Coach Shaka Smart who announced on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation. Smart said in a statement that he is working remotely and is looking forward to rejoining the team whenever it is safe to do so.
It’s been a progressive season for Texas so far, taking down a trio of top 15 ranked teams including the previously number three ranked Kansas Jayhawks by 25 points on the road in Lawrence, Kansas, in their first game out of the Christmas break.
Their next game will be on Saturday when they travel to Lexington, Kentucky, to face the Kentucky Wildcats.
This season, the Longhorns has had games against Iowa State and Texas Christian University (TCU) postponed, reportedly because of COVID-19 issues in the other teams’ programs. Now, with Smart testing positive, Texas has COVID-19 issues of their own.
Texas, which suffered both of their losses this season to ranked teams, is in the mix for a number one seed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in March.
Texas is converting 37.7 percent (58-for-154) from beyond the three-point arc in its first six Big 12 Conference games. In their last two, the Longhorns hit 25-of-56 (.446) from three-point range – 13 versus Texas Tech and 12 against Kansas State. They split those two games, losing by two points at home to number 10 Texas Tech and defeating Kansas State by 15.
Sophomore forward Jones is fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.5 points and adding 4.8 rebounds per game primarily off the bench. The 6’11”, 218-pounder leads the team in field goal percentage, shooting 62.3 percent from the field (38-for-61). He is also shooting 7-for-16 from distance (43.8 percent).
Jones is fourth on the team in steals, averaging 0.83 per game, and is playing 21.4 minutes per game. The Bahamian collegiate basketball player has been a major component in the Longhorns’ rise to national acclaim this season, improving tremendously from his freshman season in college basketball.
The Longhorns still have games against number two ranked Baylor and number 11 West Virginia on the schedule. Additionally, they have to play Oklahoma again, and also have to play their second games against Kansas and Texas Tech.
The Longhorns are second in the Big 12 Standings, trailing only Baylor, and is expected to be a team to reckon with when March Madness (NCAA Tournament) rolls around.