In 1979, the Texas Longhorns mens basketball team had four starters coming back from a team that “took New York City and Madison Square Garden by storm”….as they came from way down deep in the heart of Texas to the Big Apple….and blew away the competition in the N.I.T. (National Invitation Tournament) that year. The four starters included a 3-guard tandem of Johnny Moore, Jim Krivacs and Ron Baxter….along with power forward Tyrone Branyan.
Jim Krivacs transferred to Texas from Auburn….and was a three-year starter for the Longhorns under head coach Abe Lemons beginning in Lemons’ first year at Texas….where he twice earned All-America honors….as a 1st-team All-America selection as a junior in 1978….and as a 2nd-team selection in 1979. Krivacs led the Longhorns in scoring as a sophomore and junior….and was second in scoring as a senior. He scored an average of 22.0 points per game in 1978….and 19.5 points per game for his three-year Texas career….whe his career point total and career scoring average remain 8th and 6th-highest, respectively, in Texas mens basketball history. In 1978, Krivacs helped to lead Texas to a 26–5 overall record….a share of the Southwest Conference championship with Arkansas….the 1978 National Invitation Tournament Championship….and a final ranking of No. 17 in the Associated Press Poll. Along with teammate Ron Baxter….Jim Krivacs he was named co-MVP of the 1978 NIT. As a senior, Krivacs helped to lead the 1979 Longhorns to a 21–8 overall record….and again a share of the Southwest Conference Championship for the second consecutive season….plus an appearance in the 1979 NCAA Tournament, and a No. 15 final ranking in the Coaches Poll. In 1979, he was the first Texas men’s basketball player to receive recognition as a first-team Academic All-American….and was selected in the sixth round of the 1979 NBA draft by the Kansas City Kings.
Point guard Johnny Moore started all 112 games of his four-year college career at Texas….finishing his career as Texas’ all-time career assists leader with 714….and remains second all-time in assists per game, averaging 6.38 assists over the course of his four years as the Longhorns’ point guard….where his per-game average of 8.34 assists as a senior remains a UT men’s basketball record. Moore also posted a double-figure scoring average in each of his four seasons. He received first-team All-Southwest Conference (SWC) honors following his senior season. While leading the Longhorns to a 26–5 overall record in 1978….a record that then tied with Jack Gray’s 1947 Final Four team for the most wins in a single season in school history….plus a share of the Southwest Conference championship….and the 1978 National Invitation Tournament Championship. In the following season, Moore helped Texas win a share of the SWC championship for the second consecutive year….while defeating a school-record three AP-ranked teams to advance to the 1979 NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed….thus finishing the season with an overall record of 21–8….which gave the Longhorns their first back-to-back seasons of 20 or more wins in 31 years. Johnny Moore was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2nd round of the 1979 NBA draft as the 43rd overall pick….which was then the second-highest NBA draft position for any basketball player in UT history. Johnny Moore was traded gy the Sonics to the Spurs….where he starred as their point guard for 11 NBA seasons.
Ron Baxter was the 3rd guard in Abe Lemons 3-guard tandem….who played for the University of Texas Men’s Basketball team from 1977-80….who helped lead the Longhorns to the 1978 NIT Championship… and three successful seasons at Texas where he won the Southwest Conference Player of the Year in 1980….in addition to being a three-time first-team All-Southwest Conference pick (1978, 1979 and 1980)…. while being voted the team MVP in 1977 and 1980. Ron Baxter averaged double-digits in scoring in each of his four years at UT….while being 4th in UT history in career points with 1,897 and 919 rebounds at the time of his graduation. Baxter was also 3rd in school history with 40 career double-doubles….having been inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2001.
The 4th and final, but certainly not last, member of the returning Longhorns off the 1978 N.I.T. championship team was forward Tyrone Branyan….a 6’7″ forward….who had a court appearance of being “a slow footed, can’t jump white boy” who didn’t appear that he could out-fake or out-jump anybody on the court he was playing on….but at the end of every game he played for Texas….his stat sheet could rival just about any forward in the country in 1979….as evidenced by this game on video herewith….where he was the leading scorer with 24 points.
All in all, this Texas Longhorn team was a joy to watch….and Bone Daddy saw this USC game live at the Erwin Center on the UT campus in Austin, TX….as he did each and every home game played during the Abe Lemons era at The Forty Acres.…for Bone Daddy knew each one of these four returning starters for Texas….along with dang near all of the rest of the team….as each member was a regular at The Sports Place, Madison Square Garden at 302 E. 6th Street….cuz they all loved MSG Specials (dbl meat, dbl cheese, dbl bacon hamburgers) and basketball….as MSG served up a healthy doze of both.