Wait. Whatever do you mean we've already lost to Kansas twice? Never you mind that inconvenient truth.
In any case, it was nice to see Texas notch its first true road win of the season. Even if that win came against a team with just one conference victory. And even if Texas was tied with this lowly TCU team with 8 minutes and change to go. Details.
I'll even admit that I was so turned off by this game that I eschewed some of it to watch an exciting Indiana-Michigan St. matchup instead. From what I viewed, I'll make a few observations.
- I'm really beginning to question if Myck Kabongo is NBA-ready. Admittedly, a 3 game sample size is small, but to me, Kabongo still looks like he has one key strength (the ability to drive into the paint anytime he wants) without substantial improvement in his weaknesses (perimeter shooting, decision-making, propensity to make impossible shots/passes). Most of his second half play was forgettable, although he made a beautiful spin move layup and nice dish to a DeMarcus Holland corner 3 to seal the game. Frankly, he was significantly outplayed by TCU's Kyan Anderson for a 17-minute stretch. That shouldn't happen.
- Unfortunately, I don't think Kabongo's NBA readiness (or lack thereof) will keep him from declaring. But I'll keep hoping for a Kabongo-Julius Randle tag team next year until the dream is dead.
- In just his third career start, Connor Lammert had another really nice game. I alluded to his high basketball IQ earlier in the season, and Lammert is rewarding my high praise. Against TCU, he posted a well-rounded statline of 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. It appears that between Lammert and Jonathan Holmes, Texas will have a really nice 2-deep at the 4 for the next few years.
- Ioannis Papapetrou led the way for Texas with 15 points, and although the rest of his statline was quiet, Papi looks to be developing into an effective glue guy wing player. The Chandler Parsons comparison has been tossed out by a couple of announcers, and if Papi wants to put up Parsons' Florida collegiate numbers, I'd be thrilled. Papi's a mismatch nightmare for opponents, and once it clicks for him that he can leverage advantages as a stronger wing 3, quick 4, and point forward, the sky is the limit.
- Barnes' crunch-time lineup of Kabongo, Holland, Papapetrou, Lammert and Holmes is telling. At the beginning of the season, Barnes repeatedly praised Holland and Holmes as being two of the hardest-working players on the team. Meanwhile, Lammert and Papi have emerged as the two best freshmen in the class. It's not the Longhorns' most talented five, but it's the one that gives Rick Barnes the least heartburn.
- I'm not writing off freshmen centers Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh by any means. But both players desperately need an offseason of hardcore conditioning and a big man skills academy. I trust Todd Wright will provide the former. Can we also send them to Houston to work with Hakeem Olajuwon or something?
- If I'm Jaylen Bond or Sheldon McClellan, I'm seriously wondering what my future in the program is. McClellan got the 1 minute of playing time "teaching lesson" for the second time this year, while Bond has played just 10 total minutes in the past 3 games. I can't recall Barnes ever actively forcing players out of his program, but the scholarship numbers in 2013 and 2014 won't justify hanging onto upperclassmen who don't play.
- Finally, many thoughts and prayers to Texas Ex Gary Johnson, who fractured his skull playing in Israel and was placed in a medically induced coma for surgery. He's now in stable condition. Hoping for all the best.