I’m going to do a full blown post mortem after I’ve rewatched the game a couple times, but here are some random thoughts after my second viewing of this masterpiece this morning.
First, without about 7 minutes to go in the first half and Texas down 14 I posted the following on the Open Thread. "We’re fine." I felt pretty good about the game at that point mainly because everything was going right for KU and nothing had gone right for Texas. More importantly Texas was getting better shots than the Jayhawks. KU seemed to settle into a rhythm of a couple passes and a quick shot which is fine when everything is falling. 25 footers from Reed and running one handers from the Morri weren’t going to fall consistently and the rest of the game bore that out. Texas on the other hand was running their stuff and getting point blank looks when they wanted.
Second, KU’s transition defense, at least yesterday, wasn’t up to par for that program’s lofty standards. Texas controlled the backboards for most of the contest and they were able to parlay some of those defensive pulls into quick strike buckets.
J’Covan Brown, what can you say? The kid dominated KU’s highly touted freshman Josh Selby— jeez, just embarrassed the KU lead guard. Say what you want to say about Brown but no stage is too big for the young man. He came in and hit big bucket after big bucket and even put Selby on his hip a couple times in the post and just worked the freshman. We blogged about this all season, but if Brown fills the point guard role, this team has limitless potential. Not only does it open up the floor for our bigs offensively, but it allows Barnes to play nonscorers like Hill and Wangmene for interior defense and rebounding firepower. Just like yesterday.
Speaking of Matt Hill, it doesn’t show up in the boxscore, but Hill’s play has really been a boon for this club. Matt’s probably the team’s best positional defender and we’ve talked about how good a helpside defender he is from the big forward spot. Hill’s presence on the floor allows Texas to pressure a little more on the perimeter and takes pressure off of Tristan Thompson from having to jostle with opposing players in the post. With Hill defending the opposition’s best post player, TT can patrol the lane and be the one of the premier erasers in the college game.
Rewatching the game, I’m also struck by how much more athletic Texas is than KU. One through five, Texas was quicker and faster up and down the floor. On the glass all I really wanted in this game was for Texas to get a stalemate but Texas out athleted the Jayhawks on and around the backboards and I didn’t think that would happen after watching these two teams play all season.
As for the game itself, it boiled down to shot selection and rebounding and Texas got resounding victories in both of these categories. KU consistently settled for jumpers even from their 4 and 5 spots and this probably had a lot to do with poor field goal percentage and being outrebounded. I think the opening salvo was fool's gold for the Jayhawks, and the fact KU fell into this trap is surprising for a Bill Self coached club. But I’ll take it.
Finally, I think the techs on Hamilton and Brown should have been no calls. Brown just stood his ground while Selby came to him so I'm not sure how that's a technical. As for Morningstar, he is notorious for goading opposing players and he got Hamilton to react after smacking him across the head with a hard foul. Morningstar is one of the college game's best defenders but he’s not above some "gamesmanship" to get you out of your game. Hamilton jawing at Morningstar after Morningstar's hard foul was pretty benign in that context.
I did think Brown should have gotten T’ed up in the first have when he didn’t get a call after being raked across the arms on a breakaway layup. Brown grabbed the ball and fired it at the official and would have drawn the tech if Gary Johnson hadn’t done some politicking.
Foul shots? How about 80%?