Texas needs to find answers quickly

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In the span of 21 days, Texas has gone from No. 1 to just another one.

Rick Barnes and the Longhorns catapulted to the program's first-ever top ranking on Jan. 16 after 17 straight wins to begin the season.

Then it all unraveled.

"I don't know what happened," Texas star Damion James said in the hallway with his head buried in his hands following a 80-68 home loss to top-ranked Kansas. "I just don't know how to explain it."

Start with offensive futility.

I picked Texas to cut down the nets prior to the start of the season and just three weeks ago, I was a genius.

Now I'm a moron.

Just hours after being tagged with the No. 1 ranking in the middle of last month, Kansas State handed Texas its first loss.

OK, fine.

There's no shame in losing to Kansas State in the Octagon of Doom.

However, then came setbacks to UConn, Baylor, Oklahoma and now Kansas.

UConn would be an NIT team if the season ended today and the dysfunctional Sooners would be there as well.

It's not Texas' 19-5 overall record that's cause for concern; it's how the Longhorns have gotten to this point and where they stand now.

"We're going to fix it," Barnes said.

Barnes put the onus on the rash of turnovers, but the issues are far more extensive.

It's not easy for a 300-pounder to disappear, but that's basically what's happened to Dexter Pittman since Big 12 play began.

There have also been collectively more than 100 missed layups in the last eight games.

Barnes was crucified for his decision to play too many guys earlier in the season, so he's shortened his rotation of late.

That hasn't worked.

He's tried virtually every combination possible.

The issue is that there's a shortage of versatile players on his team. Shutdown defenders Dogus Balbay and Justin Mason just can't score so Barnes opted to remove Mason from the starting lineup.

"It was like playing 3-on-5," Barnes said of his decision to pull Mason. "We can't play Dogus and Mason together."

Freshman Jordan Hamilton, one of the top offensive weapons, can't stop anyone and isn't even making shots.

"Rick will figure it out," Kansas coach Bill Self said.

I'm not sold.

Self pointed to his national title team from a couple years ago, which lost three of five in league play.

That group fit together and had leadership.

It's not that this Texas team isn't talented.

"We're in a place we don't want to be," Texas freshman J'Covan Brown said after the loss. "We're going down a road we don't want to go down."

Texas has fallen fast -- from No. 1 in the nation to fifth in its own conference.

Barnes had more than just an inkling this was coming -- even after Texas took care of North Carolina and Michigan State within a four-day span back in December.

"I knew," Barnes said. "I knew we had issues."

But there's issues and there are issues .

Teams don't even bother to defend Balbay. They sag off and make life difficult for Pittman in the paint. Bradley is a very good college player, but he's hardly the NBA lottery pick that some draft sites have pegged him to be. Brown has been an enigma and Hamilton has taken two steps backward for every step forward.

The scariest part is that Kansas came into Austin and walked out with a convincing win despite its two best players, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, combining to go 5-for-23 from the field.

"It felt like we were 5-of-100," Aldrich said.

Marcus Morris led the Jayhawks with 18 points and freshman Xavier Henry, who has struggled of late, got it going with 15 points.

"They showed why they're the No. 1 team in the country," James said.

Texas came out of the gates strong and took a 14-8 lead. For a little while, at least for the first six minutes of the game, it was as though the old Longhorns were back.

Then came the nearly 11-minute scoring drought in which Texas' anemic offense couldn't buy a basket.

There were plenty of turnovers, ill-advised shots and just poor offense execution.

"We can fix this," Barnes repeated for about the 20th time in a lengthy postgame talk with the media. "My goal is for our team to get to the NCAA tournament and have a chance."

The way the Longhorns are playing these days, the chance is slim they would get out of the first round.

"We need to put it together and we'll be the best team in the country," Brown said.

Not all that long ago, I was buying.

Not anymore.