I'll let Trips give a detailed post-game to go with his pre-game analysis, but there were a couple of items that just jumped off the Frank Erwin Center floor tonight in the Horns 79-68 win over Michigan State.
Dexter Pittman had 4 points and 1 rebound.
To compare Texas' free throw shooting with, say, the St. Andrew's 6th grade boys team would be an insult to St. Andrews.
And yet Texas beat a Top Ten team by 11 points.
This win was more important than the UNC effort -- this was, as Rick Barnes said beforehand, a game for men. This was a first-class lesson in March Basketball for the freshmen, and it was also another example of the value of Damion James.
Michigan State is an excellent half-court offensive team. They set multiple screens, and try to run you through a ringer until the backdoor cut is there, or a wide-open 3 is also available. During the first half you could see Bradley and Brown fight through the screens, thinking they were being fouled. They weren't fouled, at least those aren't fouls in March, and today they found out just how much harder they have to play to reach the elite level. In the second half they adjusted.
Michigan State is an excellent half -defensive team, they deny the elbow and you have to be tireless in screening and moving. In the 2nd half we were much better at screening and popping and getting Damion James space to create. James was a man among men, getting 23 points and 13 rebounds. He produced 48 points and 28 rebounds against back-to-back Top Ten teams. He probably thinks he made the right choice to come back for his senior year.
Again, for March, this game meant so much more for the younger players than UNC. Jordan Hamilton went brain dead for a stretch in the 1st half, Barnes didn't give up on him, and Hamilton rewarded him with a couple of 3-point daggers to the Spartan's heart. Hamilton, Bradley, and Brown all found out where their game is in December -- and where it needs to be in March.
The crowd was tournament quality as well -- the kind usually reserved for Kansas or A&M in the Frank Erwin Center.
Here is the scary part. Texas beat Michigan State by 11 points, and they haven't even touched the surface on how good they can play.
That is scary. Scary good.