#8 TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-2) 74, WISCONSIN BADGERS (9-3) 69
No grades today. You know me, they'd all get A's. What a big win in a hostile environment. Bo Ryan is a hell of a basketball coach and he's like 135-7 at home in the Kohl Center. And why not, the Badgers play a stifling sagging man to man that preys on selfish basketball and poor shot selection. Sound scary? Yep, Texas should have been right in Ryan's wheelhouse. But a funny thing happened on the way to Madison.
In our Wisconsin preview we talked about some keys that would enable Texas to speed up the basketball game. We talked about pressure. Texas employed token pressure about fifty per cent of the time and I thought it sped up Wisconsin into some early threes and bad shots. We talked about running. Texas looked to run make or miss even if it led to secondary break opportunities. And we talked about running your stuff in the halfcourt. And Texas did with great tempo that made the Badger defense move their feet allowing Texas to penetrate gaps with superior athleticism. Had Texas stood around and watched like they did vs. MSU, Wisconsin wins in a blow out.
On to the players.
I thought he forced way too many shots down the stretch. He was the number 1 option on a lot of sets late in the ballgame and had he made the extra pass he would have found wide open teammates for much better looks. It's hard to blame him, though, especially after we lost a game in which he only took 10 shots. Hell we practically called the fact that he'd force things. He only had 1 assist and he had the opportunity for half a dozen.
Damion fucking James. How many rebounds did he have where he was so out of position that you thought Texas had a seven footer boarding inside, because DJ had horrible position and still went up above the rim to pull the board. Quick explosive hops. My Lord. Fifteen rebounds on the night for a kid that has disappeared in stretches this year. His clutch on ball defense, block, and steal against Trevon Hughes sealed the win and probably made the junior from Nacogdoches some money. Oh, and by the way, he was 6-10 from the field for 18 points. He was also a heroic 6-7 from the line. His 3 turnovers cost my kids a spanking or two, but they'll learn not to be careless with the basketball, or a sippy cup for that matter.
Meh. If not for the two big blocks and a steal, I wouldn't have known that he played. We need more from Connor.
Holy crap, 8 dimes and 1 turnover is stellar for the converted wing. My problem is his on ball defense has allowed back to back guards to absolutely go off. I'm afraid this whole running the show thing is hurting this once fierce on ball defender. Still, for having one good eye, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
GJ might be the most fearless player on the squad and it's high time he gets more than 10 shots a game. No, I'm not talking about his last second bank. He was 6-9 on legitimate shots, and most of them came with a defender in his face. Hightower and the other zebras owe him an apology for only sending him to the foul line twice. Did I mention Gary defended and boarded like an animal? Eight boards, a block, and a steal that couldn't have been bigger.
Was he hurt or was Barnes sending a message?
Tough game for Pitt to be involved with because all of the Badger big men can float and shoot. Plus, Texas' best interest was to speed up the game and Dex is a human rain delay. Still he had two big buckets in just 8 minutes of play. He keeps showing piss and vinegar tenacity and I like that. Especially when he keeps his pivot foot.
Can you say coming out party? Balbay ran the team like it was his own, but the real reason he was in the game was because Mason struggled with Hughes. Balbay came in and cooled Trevon down, but the Turk took advantage of the opportunity on the other end by running the show, dropping 4 dimes, and making two key hustle plays to maintain possession for Texas down the stretch. If Dogus had a jumper, he'd be our answer at PG. Great, under control game for the Turk. And wow, 5 boards that included a couple 40+ inch vertical pulls that a forward would be proud of. We don't win this game without Balbay.
He still tends to play out of control at times, but the kid is fearless on both ends of the floor. He had a poor night from the floor, but Varez pulled 4 offensive rebounds in just 13 minutes of play. He's also a monster on defense and isn't afraid to guard forwards and guards alike.
Here were my thoughts at halftime and they carried on into the second half.
We’re playing very well with the exception of some careless turnovers.
We’re controlling tempo with some token pressure, tough on ball defense, and good tempo in our half court sets. Our sped up tempo has led to some uncharacteristic bad shots by the Badgers. Unfortunately, they’re hitting most of them. That won’t continue.
Mason is struggling guarding the basketball. Running the show is taking its toll on him.
Hughes will come back down to earth. Balbay is slowing him down. If Balbay only had a J, he’d be our answer.
Our ball reversal off of the dribble handoff has gotten our bigs a couple easy looks. We missed this component Saturday.
Foul shooting? Who is that in burnt orange? We missed 1 foul shot?
We’ll win if we take care of the basketball.
Kudos to Barnes for getting us into the correct tempo using a variety of tactics to speed things up. You could tell Wisconsin was somewhat out of their element playing so fast. And we imposed our tempo on their home court. The tweaks in our half court sets really opened up the floor and allowed Texas to exploit the quickness and athletic advantage it enjoyed going in. Huge win. Great coaching job by Rick and the staff.