A tale of two halves was a theme last season. That and shitty chemistry. I’d like to think we had done away with all 2009 themes but it appears as if my thinking is off here as the Longhorns once again let off the gas after jumping out to a huge first half lead. It’s one thing to do that against the also-rans of the conference but it’s an entirely different issue if you’re doing it against a club with NBA-caliber talent. It almost bit us were it not for an in-and-out heartbreak of a missed 3 point attempt by LaceDarius Dunn with under 3 minutes to play. The basketball gods smiled on us Saturday but they might not be so generous come tournament time.
Another troubling issue was our poise down the stretch in this game. It seemed like we stopped running our stuff on offense and stood around watching Jordan Hamilton make plays. I have no problem with Jordan playing the creator role but I’d rather see us run offense for 20 seconds on a possession, especially against an undisciplined club like Baylor, and then go the iso route when the shot-clock is winding down. The result of our lack of poise bailed out Baylor from having to play defense for most possessions down the stretch and if it wasn’t for a couple of individual plays by Hamilton we would have been in deep trouble.
As I said in the preview, we have the personnel to cut up a lazy zone and we did just that. But where the hell was our man offense which has been stellar for most of the season? When you’re playing a team that rarely plays man, you should consistently get great looks at the bucket—especially when you have Texas talent and the ability to run a diversified man offense. It might sound nit picky, but it’s something to keep an eye on as these games start getting tighter.
Also, it seems like Rick is gearing up for the tournament because he’s started to shorten his bench. Hill didn’t get much run and I don’t think Jai Lucas played at all but he's hard to find in the wide angle shots. This could have been a matchup driven decision, but expect Rick to limit his rotation for the Big Dance when TV timeouts are more frequent, placing less of a premium on depth.
Let’s get to the grades.
Jordan Hamilton. B+. Jordan was a solid 7-14 from the floor but the one stat that jumps out is the 0 assists to 3 turnovers. Now I’m fully aware that Hamilton created some open looks for guys down the stretch and they simply missed, but in order for Jordan to be the number one difference maker in the nation at the 3 position he’s got to be a facilitator all game long. I also felt Baylor’s length bothered a few of his deep looks evidenced by the 1-5 from behind the arc. Again, had Texas and specifically Hamilton been a bit more patient in the second half, I’m confident Hamilton would have gotten better shots and had a better shooting day from downtown.
Gary Johnson. A-. Gary absolutely worked Quincy Acy or Jones either in the high post or low block in an efficient offensive game. You always love to see 50% from the floor, but more impressive than the shooting percentage was Johnson’s 8 free throw attempts and 7 rebounds which showed he was banging with the Baylor frontcourt. Texas will need that come tournament time. The one quibble I had with GJ’s game was his failure to close down LaceDarius Dunn’s dribble on a double team down the stretch that allowed the Baylor guard to get to the rim for a 3 point play. Johnson has to do a better job there.
Cory Joseph. B. If Joseph wasn’t motivated to get in the gym before, he will be now. If I’m Todd Wright I put this game tape on a loop in CJ’s locker come the off season because Joseph was man-handled in the post by the Bears. Credit Drew for using his frontcourt personnel to lift help out of the lane allowing Dunn to work Joseph with his back to the basket. Joseph needs to get stronger so he can at least hold his ground against a post-up to allow help to arrive.
I think Baylor’s offensive length and Texas’ lack of patience and unselfishness went a long way to Cory’s poor offensive showing. If we had a true creator at the 1 in this game, Cory gets much better looks.
Tristan Thompson. A-. He was a one man show in the paint against Baylor’s length and athleticism and TT didn’t disappoint. 17 points on 5-9 shooting with 13 man-sized boards, 3 blocks, and countless altered shots is getting it done. Again, had Texas been a bit more patient throughout the second half, Thompson would have had 10 more points and fouled the entire Baylor frontline. Two words, Tristan: Myck Kabongo. The minus sign is due to foul shooting where Tristan was a disappointing 7-14. The good news is that he’s starting to turn the corner here, and don’t be surprised if the two game clinching, clutch foul shots with under a minute is the catalyst. When he gets his arc it goes in, when it's a flat shot it clanks. Pretty simple fix.
J’Covan Brown. B-. Talk about another player that was bothered by Baylor’s size and athleticism, Brown went in to the tree a few times on dribble drives and was left looking for a bailout foul because he couldn’t finish at the rim. Again, patience cures all offensive ills for the most part. Pass, move without the ball, and then get it back gets you better looks, J’Covan—especially against Baylor. Come tournament time, the Horns will have to get more than just 1 assist out of Brown. He’s at his best as a playmaker for this squad and not just a scorer. The good news is that there was no post game tweeting.
Dogus Balbay. B. Not really a game for Dogus because Baylor is a zone team. We tried some stuff with Doge in the short corner to help space the floor, but as I posted in the pregame, having Balbay so close to the bucket costs you floor balance and Texas paid the price with a run-out or two. Defensively, Balbay played well against Walton, but it’s tough to keep him on the floor unless teams extend their defense and Baylor certainly wasn’t.
Alexis Wangmene. B-. Two turnovers and two boards in 8 minutes isn’t what Coach Barnes wants out of the Texas center. Granted Baylor doesn’t have the kind of personnel that makes Alexis a must-play, but Texas is going to face some teams that will necessitate playing more size.
Coaching. A-. Overall, our coaching in the final few minutes was solid, especially the offense to defense subs and the decision to send quick doubles at Lace Dunn down the stretch. I’m guessing Rick learned his lesson with Kemba Walker. The minus sign comes from our inability to crush Baylor’s will after jumping out to a big lead. Also, we didn’t adjust well when Baylor went to their man D. Still, that’s nit picky shit considering we’re 10-0 in conference and haven’t really had a close game for a while until this past Saturday. Actually, the Baylor let down is exactly what you want as a coach. You get the W, but you still get to run the shit out of your squad without coming off like a maniac. It’s the best of both worlds if you’re a coach and about the worst possible scenario if you’re Oklahoma State.