It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win. Winning on the road in power conference play is hardly ever a cakewalk, but the Longhorns still managed a double-digit victory after going into halftime down five. That's a significant positive to me.
Neither team shot particularly well. Texas hit just 38.5% of its shots, while Oklahoma managed to drain 41.4%. Both teams hit just 5 three-pointers, kept the rebounding margin close (31-27 in favor of Texas), and weren't completely careless with the ball (11 Texas turnovers to 13 for Oklahoma). The difference maker was free throws. Texas scored 17 second half points on free throws (and 24 total), while the Sooners were just 5 of 8.
No, it wasn't an A+ game. But it's a deposit in the bank to 10 conference wins, and that's good enough. Like Jay-Z says, it's on to the next one.
No Panic in these Horns: Texas seems to be making a habit of carving out first half deficits, and playing OU turned out no differently. The Longhorns found themselves down 8 with just 36 seconds to play in the first half. "No problem!" said the Burnt Orange jerseys. Texas scored 3 points to close the margin going into the break, then scored the first 7 points of the second half to take the lead. At some point, it would be nice to see Texas put together a complete game, but at least we now know they can close those second half comebacks.
Second-Half Transition Buckets: Three steal and finishes in the second half helped bump the lead from 4 to 12, effectively winning the game for the Horns. They were pretty, too. The first was a J'Covan Brown steal, after which he sent a wicked bounce pass in between two defenders to a streaking Myck Kabongo. Kabongo followed up with a self-made steal and layup, and then Jaylen Bond got in on the action by starting the play with a steal and then finishing with a slam from a Kabongo pass. Poetry in motion, those plays were.
Offensive Passing: I thought that was one of the better passing games we've seen from Texas this season. While the end result was just 10 assists and 11 turnovers in the box score (yeah, that doesn't look not good), Texas did a really nice job of swinging the ball around the perimeter, dribble penetrating, and identifying the open man. Potential assists were lost when open shots were missed, unguarded three-pointers and post bunnies alike. Chalk up some of the free throw advantage to good passing as well.
Kabongo's Shooting Stroke: It looked hideous at times early in the year, but Kabongo now has a consistent and confident stroke from beyond the arc. He's raised his 3-point shooting percentage to 35.8% on the year, and has hit 57.9% (11 of 19) over the past 10 games. Likewise, Kabongo's form is too good on free throws for him to be hitting just 65% from the charity stripe. He was a perfect 6 for 6 yesterday, and has been a 77.8% shooter (21 of 27) over the past 5 games. Texas needs Kabongo, as Texas' lead guard, to maintain both those higher percentages going into March.
The Clark and Neal First-Half Show: Cameron Clark came into the game hitting 38% of his shots, and ended up swishing the nets for 11 first-half points on 5-7 shooting. Tyler Neal had averaged 1.1 points per game in conference play, yet hit two 3-pointers and scored 8 points. Luckily for Texas, both regressed to the mean in the second-half. Clark finished with 13 points overall, and Neal didn't score again.
Chapman's Missed Bunnies: Sometimes shots just don't fall, but seeing Clint Chapman miss close shot after close shot was, as Chapman's career has often been, infuriating. Hitting just 2 of 9 from the field with so many makeable looks was not Chapman's best effort, especially when he was expected to have a big game against a mediocre Sooner frontcourt.
First Half Outside Shooting: The Longhorns weren't really good all night, and some of those shots were downright ugly. Texas shot 1 of 11 from distance in the first half. Brown's shot just wasn't falling, and that 0 of 4 mark (including an airball) helped contribute to the first-half deficit. Brown course corrected himself in the second half, hitting 3 of 5, but overall it was a "meh" type of night for him.
Kabongo and the Bonehead Play: There's going to be three to five inexplicable, head-scratching, boneheaded plays made by Kabongo each game. Accept it. Learn to live with it. As long as he's also contributing 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds,it's not a backbreaker.
Sam Grooms, Scorer Extraordinare!: Those 10 assists sure look nice, but Grooms makes Doge Balbay's offensive scoring potency look like Linsanity. Grooms finished with zero points on 0 of 7 shooting. For the season, he's hitting 34.0% from the field and 21.9% from distance. Yikes. Also, I thought Carl Blair, a transfer from the University of New Orleans by way of Gulf Shores Academy in Houston, would improve upon an up-and-down sophomore year in which he averaged 7.5 PPG. I thought wrong; dude is terrible this year.