That was painful.
Like, Kendrick Perkins painful.
Writing this, I sympathize with Scipio Tex and the past two football seasons. It's hard to write the same refrain over and over again with fading hope that things will change.
If you watched the game, you know what happened. And if you didn't watch it, you're not jumping on the basketball bandwagon now, anyway.
Here we go.
J'Covan Brown...Again - Well, J'Covan was his usual plus on the box score. Like at Baylor, Brown shook off a slow start and ignited in the second half. Unlike at Baylor, Brown wasn't able to get it going from distance, hitting just 1 of 7. Likewise, 7-18 from the field and 5-8 from the charity stripe are below Brown's averages. Overall, Brown probably grades out at a B/B-, and maybe lower if he's placed on the J'Covan curve. Unfortunately, Texas desperately needed Brown's A game. And without it, the Horns fell one point short.
Julien Lewis: Beyond the Box Score - I, along with other Texas basketball followers, have much maligned Lewis for his shoddy offensive numbers. I tried to follow Lewis some in-game, and he does so many other little things well. He's the best perimeter defender, a sneaky rebounder, and a consistent hustler. Two comparators that come to mind are Kentucky's Gerald Fitch and Duke's DeMarcus Nelson, underrated role players that were sometimes chastised due to average offensive stats. As for this game, Lewis didn't attempt a single trey, and it showed. He efficiently hit double digit points (12) in 9 shots, only the second time all season he's accomplished that feat.
Rebounding, For Once - After seeing Baylor's +13 rebounding margin, Barnes probably lit into his team for not hitting the boards. Missouri is a small team, and Texas capitalized on the rare height advantage. The Longhorns outrebounded Missouri 35 to 23 overall, with 15 offensive boards. Jonathan Holmes led the way with 9 rebounds, while Clint Chapman and Jaylen Bond had 7 each. Alexis Wangmene? Umm, well, one. Here's a sobering fact: Texas has not had a player rack up double-digits in rebounds since the first game of Big 12 play, when Chapman pulled down 14 boards against Iowa State. Meanwhile, Kansas' Thomas Robinson already has 5 double-doubles in 8 conference games.
Michael Dixon - Dixon had 21 points on 9-10 shooting, including the game-winner. On a normal night, harassing Marcus Denmon and Kim English into 14 points on 6-20 shooting would translate into a win. But wouldn't you know it: Texas managed to pull out defeat from the jaws of victory. Dixon was an equal opportunity abuser, and even siccing Lewis on him wasn't enough.
Frank Haith's Coaching Against Rick Barnes - It wasn't just the surprise zone defense to end the game. Haith just seems to know how to needle his ex-boss into enough uncomfortable sets, both offensively and defensively. A pleasant by-product of the SEC's annexation of Missouri is Barnes won't have to deal with Haith in conference play. I'd still like to see the two play in non-conference, as the Tigers have been one of my favorite teams to watch in recent years.
Uchi Houston - I missed most of the first half audio watching the game on a bar television, thanks to an impromptu dinner at this Austin transplant. Between the arrival of Torchy's and Uchi, Houston is starting to keep it weird. And I dig it.
THE BAD/THE UGLY
Zero/Zero - Let's start with that first half, when the Texas box score consisted of zero assists and zero 3-pointers made. It was a stat so obvious that even Brent Musburger realized it. Oh, and 22 first-half points is a mark of offensive futility that even Greg Davis would be proud of.
As an aside, was it just my bad ears, or did Bobby and Mussy think that Julien Lewis' last name was Allen?
Myck Kabongo's Intentional Foul - There are times when Kabongo's play makes you, the fan, want to pull out all your hair. Like a drive-stopping fumble, a lackadaisical turnover is a real momentum killer. With 8 to play and Texas down two, the Longhorns look poised to take the lead and ride the home crowd to a victory. Instead, Kabongo passed on a wide-open 3, then got his pocket picked by the stealthy Phil Pressey. To make matters worse, Kabongo then grabbed Pressey's shorts--in front of the official, no less--to compound the problem by getting called for an intentional foul. At that point, I thought Texas was toast. Missouri ran the lead to 10 by the U-4 timeout, and yet, ever the tease, the Longhorns stormed back.
Michael Dixon's Flagrant Foul - With the Tigers up 3 with a minute to play, Dixon returned the boneheaded favor by elbowing Lewis in the face, giving up the ball plus two shots to Texas. And when Brown hit that bank shot to take the lead, I thought: "FINALLY!" And yet, ever the tease, the Longhorns gave it up at the end.
The Last Offensive Set - In the Baylor GBU, I had contemplated chastising Barnes for not using a timeout when Texas was down 73-68. The offense looked dysfunctional, and with 2 TO's in his pocket, I thought it was ridiculous that Barnes wasn't willing to spend one to set up a good offensive play. Then Chapman bailed out Texas by getting fouled after pulling down the offensive board, and Barnes spent a timeout to draw up a brilliant inbounds trap. So I let it go. Fool me two times though: shame on you. Barnes absolutely needed to call a timeout against Missouri.
(1) Down 1, with a full 27 seconds left, Texas had plenty of time to extend the game in case of a miss. Even if Missouri grabs the rebound and hits both free throws, the Tigers are still up by just 3. You can still tie the game.
(2) Given that Texas had just faced a zone defense against Baylor, when the team looked out of sorts, Barnes should have immediately known something was wrong. Call the timeout and set up your scenarios. Extend the dang game.
(3) After Brown launched his missed game-tying 3 way too early against Baylor, don't think Barnes didn't give his star player an earful. You better believe Brown had that in his head when he sent a pass all the way across the court, knowing he'd likely never get that ball back. And yes, J'Covan is the only one that can create his own shot on this team. So if you weren't happy with Barnes' usual late game offensive strategy--stand around and watch Brown shoot--at least you got something different this time.
(4) Kabongo was so flustered on his drive that he didn't notice a wide-open Lewis calling for the ball. Instead, he drove into the teeth of the defense and threw up a prayer. After Kabongo's miss, Lewis just missed on the offensive rebound, also missing his opportunity to foul the rebounder and thus ending the game. In related news, I'm pretty sure Barnes' Risk strategy doesn't involve any type of scenario planning other than putting his entire army in the Ukraine.
Postgame Barnes - So apparently, Barnes told reporters that (1) the refs missed the foul call and (2) he had called both a man play and a zone play in the huddle. So we're blaming refs and blaming players now? Ok, then.
Not Good Enough - Agreed.
Texas draws Texas Tech at home on Saturday, and the Red Raiders are one of the worst teams in the nation. @A&M, vs. KSU, @OU and @OSU follow. While that's not the Murderer's Row stretch Texas just faced, those are all losable games. Well, at least you can entertain yourself with National Signing Day via Recruitocosm.