Kansas City • It is mostly a symbolic gesture, because in college basketball team captains don't do much but gather at midcourt before the game, shake hands with the opposing captains and get some instructions from the referees.
But for BYU guard Matt Carlino, being named a team captain before the season started means the world.
"Just knowing that the coaches really care about me, and my teammates care about me and respect me, that's a huge deal," Carlino said.
Off to a sizzling start, Carlino and fellow captain Tyler Haws will lead the Cougars into the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic, which continues Monday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
BYU (4-1) takes on Texas (4-0) in the first game (5:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU), while DePaul and Wichita State will clash in the second. Winners meet Tuesday at 8 p.m., while losers tangle at 5:30 p.m.
Carlino is averaging 18.6 points per game and 5.2 assists per game, second on the team in both categories. His 3-point shooting has been slow to come around (20 percent), but he looks way more comfortable on the court, and is making better decisions, than in his first two seasons in Provo.
"There are some things I need to clean up, but it feels good," he said. "The whole team feels good about the way we are playing."
Neither Texas nor BYU has seniors on its roster, and the Longhorns have just two juniors, leading scorer Jonathan Holmes (15.0 ppg.) and guard Tarale Murry.
But Texas is familiar with the Sprint Center, with an 11-5 all-time record at the facility since it opened in 2007. This will be BYU's first-ever game at the arena, and second game away from the Marriott Center this season, having defeated Stanford 112-103 in Palo Alto on Nov. 11.
The Longhorns (4-0) will be playing their first game of the season away from the Erwin Center in Austin. They have wins over Mercer, South Alabama, Stephen F. Austin and Houston Baptist.
"We've played some pretty good teams up to this point," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We're going to play a team that's going to play a different style than we've seen up to this point. â¦ They get fouled a lot. If there's a team out there taking advantage of the new rules, I would say it is BYU."
The Cougars received some good news Friday when freshman forward Eric Mika was cleared to practice again after suffering a right eye abrasion in the 90-88 loss to Iowa State. The starter practiced without limitations Saturday and is expected to play Monday night.
Barnes said BYU's up-tempo style has Texas' full attention.
"This is a big opportunity for us to put Texas basketball back on the map," said Texas freshman Isaiah Taylor.
BYU vs. Texas
P At the Sprint Center, Kansas City
Tipoff • 5:30 p.m. MST
TV • ESPNU
Radio • 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 4-1, Texas 4-0
Series History • BYU leads, 3-2
Last Meeting • Texas 96, BYU 57 (Dec. 1, 1978, at Austin)
About the Longhorns • Junior forward Jonathan Holmes leads them in scoring with a 15.0 average and has reached double figures in scoring in all four games. â¦ Five players are averaging in double figures in scoring and four are averaging at least 6 rebounds per game. â¦ They have out-rebounded all four of their opponents.
About the Cougars • Tyler Haws has played in only three of their five games, but leads them in scoring with a 26.3 average. Matt Carlino is averaging 18.6 ppg., second best on the team. â¦ Freshman Eric Mika suffered an eye abrasion in the 90-88 loss to Iowa State but practiced at full strength Saturday and should be able to play Monday.