It would be hard to find an uglier win on the schedule. If you were a Major Leaguer mired in a 1-30 slump and you needed a slump buster, this game would fit the bill. But a win is a win is a win, as the ninth ranked Texas Longhorns held off an upstart Nebraska team trying to rally from a 13 point halftime deficit. And should have if not for the clutch shooting from 3 land and the free throw line by AJ Abrams.
The game itself was really a tale of two shooting halves. The old addage about a player that can "shoot you into games and shoot out of them as well" took on a life of its own, personified by a Longhorn team that refused to establish any interior offense either in the post or going to the goal. Relying on and settling for midrange and deep jumpers all game long is fine if you're hitting. If you're not hitting, you're liable to blow a 13 point lead to a mediocre Nebraska team, and not get into the bonus until 20 seconds left in the game. Shame on us for settling. Shame on us for nearly blowing a conference title. On to the grades.
Watch your cornhole, Horns.
DJ Augustin. A.Another stellar night scoring the basketball from the all-american point guard. Unlike the Tech game, however, DJ valued the basketball and distributed a bit better going 9-16 from the floor with 5 dimes and only 2 turnovers. The kid's midrange game continues to mindfuck opposing guards and if we ran some counter sets off the high screen and roll/fade, it would renew his ability to get to the glass for easy layups and easier dishes. More on that later.
Damion James. A.Outstanding offensive and defensive effort from the hybrid forward tonight. A 6-9, ten rebound game is an uber-efficient performance. Couple that with tenacious defense and several hustle plays make James my player of the game. I would still like to see him go to the hole more on slow-footed forwards, and post up smaller players, but his performance tonight is something you take night in and night out.
Connor Atchley. C. Another subpar performance from CA after undressing Erin Andrews with his eyes in the post game interview two short games ago. The 2 for 8 shooting would be more palatable if he had more than 2 rebounds against a team that deploys one legitimate frontcourt player. Pathetic. Connor needs to snap out of whatever post KSU euphoria he was caught up in. You go to Texas for crissake. You see better tail than Erin Andrews on campus daily.
Does Erin's boyfriend think about baseball or Billy Packer?
AJ Abrams. B. AJ f'n Abrams. Way to step up and drill the clutch 3. Nice clutch free throws. Thank you for giving Huck L. Berry a ginormous middle finger. You would have gotten an A had you not missed on your previous four 3's and had a poor game in general from a shot selection standpoint. Lending creedence to Huck's argument that "clutch" doesn't exist by having a horrid previous 38 minutes knocks your grade on principle alone. Still, a solid game with terrific on ball defense, and 5 tough boards.
Justin Mason. A.Mason played nearly a perfect game tonight going 2-2 from the line and 2-2 from the field, with 7 rebounds including 3 offensive. His defense was again active and stifling, and he added a ho-hum four assists. Where would this team be without Justin Mason?
Gary Johnson. B.Gary Johnson, I ain't mad atcha. Sure you were a measley 1-3 from the field but it's not your fault that no one will enter the post and take advantage of your mismatch in the paint. Who cares if you were fouled on two attempts and had an easy half hook on another. Remember, there are jump shots to be taken, dude. The fact that you think this team needs a post presence, "is like your opinion, man." Three rebounds would be concerning, but you blocked out well all night and didn't get any favorable bounces in your 19 minutes. The elbow jumper will go down. Just keep shooting it.
Wangmene. B+. Look, I don't understand why you don't play more. Perhaps Alex Maric is Cameroon for ass boil. Seriously, though, it's stupid the kid doesn't get more minutes when his 7 foot wing span actually makes a lick of difference in a full front with no backside help.
Enter the ball you nihilist prick.
Clint Chapman. B+. See Wangmene. Just bizarre minute allocation from the coaching staff. Three minutes of PT when you're deploying a team devoid of any offensive interior presence makes zero sense.
Pittman. Incomplete. See the previous two. If Pittman can't guard Maric, then who the fuck in the Big 12 can he guard? Maybe Velander and Anderson aren't taking wide open 3 balls off of help if Pittman is playing behind the cement-footed Alex Maric.
Coaching. C. After dropping a hugely important game in Lubbock, I expected to see a team breathing fire on defense. I expected to see an active screening and cutting offense searching for good shots on every possession unlike the Tech game. Instead, I saw a defense that lapsed in its recognition of the limited shooters Nebraska deploys and an offense that settled for midrange and deep jumpers off of predictable high screen and nothing all night. No ball movement, no extra passing, no nada. Nothing but the high screen and roll and DJ show.
Look, if we're going to screen and roll/fade, we have to start punishing help on the screener by entering the opposite block. It's that simple. You can do this a number of ways from ball reversal exploiting out of position help or by attacking the high post with a shot, drive, or low post entry. In any event, it doesn't really matter what you do, if your guard or wing looks at the wide open post man for a couple counts and goes elsewhere. It doesn't matter if your post isn't going to get a drop step dunk off your look, enter the f'ing ball, collapse the defense and you'll get a wide open perimeter look on a kickout, or you can take advantage of a shifting defense by reposting with better position. If you don't enter the ball, the defense and the terrorists have won.
If it's the kids not entering the post fine. Kick their ass in practice and punish them for not looking into the post. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, based on the lack of PT for bonafide post players, that it isn't entirely on the kids. In any event, we better get some semblance of a post game or we'll likely be an early exit from the tourney unless we get above average shooting game in and game out. With our shot selection lately, that's a dicey proposition.