If you've accepted the same Longhorn narrative as me (flawed team unlikely to make the NCAAs, but with potential down the line), then tonight's loss should be an encouraging one. The Texas Longhorns played well throughout the game, put themselves in a position to win, but couldn't come away with a victory. I'll get into more macro discussion about where I think this team is headed in the weekly roundup, but I wanted to get some game thoughts on paper.
- Whale of a game from Cameron Ridley. At one point, the color guy said this is the type of game we should be seeing all the time. When Ridley's an upperclassman, I agree. For now, he's still in the "early adopter" phase in his big man development cycle. 12 points, 10 boards, 6 blocks, and 1 nifty dime is a great stat-line for him. Most importantly, he played with confidence and aggression, without letting fatigue get the better of him.
- Prince Ibeh also chipped in valuable minutes, and his patented "up-and-down" freak athleticism came into play. After a slow start by his team, Barnes' strategy of attacking on the offensive end BYU's Eric Mika proved sly. It forced Mika to work on defense and get into foul trouble. After the fouls started to accrue, the Cougars were forced to send doubles at Ridley. Ridley handled himself well, another promising glimpse into future post potential.
- This was my first live action this year. (No, I don't have Longhorn Network, and yes, I don't have time to try and find black market feeds.) You may now count me amongst the Isaiah Taylor believers. Dude has the game, the body, and most importantly, the mind to be a great college point guard. On a night when he went 0-5 from the field, he still managed to positively add to the game (7-10 from the line, 2 rebounds, 3 assists). This was statistically his worst game as a Longhorn, and I still came away impressed.
- Really like Javan Felix's scoring/attacking mentality as an off-the-ball guard. On another note, I found it interesting that Barnes decided to go big in the final 4, bringing in Connor Lammert and shifting Jonathan Holmes to the 3. I also found it interesting that Barnes picked Felix to helm the ship and left Demarcus Holland in strictly for defensive purposes. I thought it was a questionable decision, and the offense stagnated as a result.
- Damarcus Croaker drew his first start and ended up with 14 points, second-best on the team to Javan Felix. Other than a high point total due to volume shooting, it wasn't a great night for him. Holland had a "clutch" 3 near the end but otherwise does nothing for me on offense.
- Ho-hum game for Jonathan Holmes, still ended up with a 10 and 10. You're my boy, blue.
- I really like this BYU Cougars team...next year. I was hedging on this team after seeing some of their play against Iowa St., and I'm not sure I came away with positive answers tonight. BYU's interior lacks depth and experience, there's no clear floor general, and if shots aren't falling I don't see the Cougars having the ability to continually create offense inside the arc. That said, they're awful fun to watch, and they paired nicely with Texas to give us a great game.