Of course I watched it, despite my threats otherwise. I'm a glutton for punishment. On the bright side, I discovered a new nook in the hidden recesses of my deep cable.
The first half featured Texas missing a lot of shots, generally uneven play, and Houston staked to a six point halftime lead.
The game swung to Texas in the 2nd half when the Horns went to zone. Prince Ibeh completely controlled the paint, Kabongo dominated the flow of the game, and Julien Lewis asserted himself. We were playing good basketball.
Up six against Houston with about 7:30 to go, the Horns looked ready to win by double digits against a Cougar squad incapable of attacking the Longhorn zone and without any real ability to defend beyond hoping Texas shooters would miss. Which Texas too frequently obliged at 38% for the game.
Then Myck Kabongo went out for a breather for Javan Felix, and Barnes re-inserted a passive Jonathan Holmes, who had been consigned to the bench for Lammert/Poppy who had been competitive and role player-y. Three minutes later, Texas was down by five.
Texas scrapped hard to make up the margin, quickly did so, surrendered a late open jump shot to Danuel House on a bad zone rotation to surrender what prove to be the game-winning shot after Kabongo's clutch free throws, and Julien Lewis missed a fair look on the other end for the game. Game over. Season over.
A mercy killing, I guess.
Some quick takeaways:
- Prince Ibeh was fantastic. If he has a desire to make a living playing professional basketball, the potential is clearly there. Cameron Ridley's injury forced Ibeh to step up and he came up strong against a middling Cougar frontline. 12 points, 11 boards, 5 blocks in only 23 minutes. He was an absolute game changer. I hope his performance carries him through a strong offseason with Todd Wright. He has a bright future if he wants it
- Julien Lewis scored a career high 25 on accurate shooting with few turnovers. Effort is never a problem with Lewis, but decision-making and a handle can be. He was active on the defensive end and really stepped up in every facet. I wish the last shot could have gone for him because he was one of the Longhorn players that showed up to compete from the opening whistle
- Myck Kabongo strung together some long sequences of play which demonstrated what he's capable of on the court. Houston couldn't stay in front of him and he pretty much went where he wanted. He dominated tempo and his 17 points and 6 assists don't fully reflect how he controlled the action for long stretches. His brief hiatus on the bench late was largely responsible for an 11 point swing to the Cougars
- Sheldon McCllelan was a miserable 2 of 13 from the field, missed several easy looks, and for some reason decided to make the degree of difficulty on several shots within 10 feet of the hoop harder than they should be. He was a better basketball player a year ago
- Jonathan Holmes has become a passive non-factor. He has real skills and athletic ability in a 6-7, 240 pound frame and he didn't really want to be a part of this game. I have no idea who he is anymore. He was a better basketball player a year ago
- Myck Kabongo played 34 minutes. If he plays 36, Texas probably wins by 8. Good thing we spared his legs for that key 7th game of the series
- Texas got off to another slow start and the team didn't look comfortable for an entire half of play. Holmes and McCllelan - after disappointing seasons - actually regressed in a clean slate game with no pressure or stakes. That's on the coaching staff - pure and simple
So a miserable basketball season concludes on the 40 Acres and Rick Barnes records his first losing season. I honestly never thought I'd see it.