Fun game in front of empty stands while Longhorn basketball royalty (KD) looked on approvingly and offered a Come-To-UT infomercial interview. Rhode Island has some good-looking athletes wearing powder blue Liberace pajames, they come in waves, and they hit us with a reasonably ineffectual full court press for most of the game. Barnes let our guys figure it out and run, we reaffirmed the basic identity of the team in a number of areas - good and bad - and we learned a little more about each of our guy's skill sets. Defensively, we also showed some zone and it was...amusing. Particularly when the back line went 6-7, 6-7, 6-3. Jay Bilas hates our lengthlessness.
We also shot 79.5% from the FT line on 44 attempts and that's a pretty good sample size. I'll say it: The Texas Longhorns are good from the free throw line. We frittered away an early 17 point lead, got a little careless with the ball, URI hit the 3s they'd been missing, and we found ourselves tied. FRESHMAN PANIC ENSUED. Nah. We actually picked it up on defense and cruised to the easy win. I loved seeing that. It's a miracle we ended up out-rebounding URI, but I attribute it to better legs and guards grabbing transition rebounds down the stretch. Early on, they were killing us on second chance shots in the paint.
J'Covan Brown was ridiculous. Again. 35 points, 6 boards, 6 assists. He put the URI guards into various states of undress all game. And why is a slow guy so effective on the break? He drew fouls at will (10-12 from the FT line) was 5 of 10 from the 3 point line (he took only one horrific heat check shot I can recall) and keeps finding teammates for easy assists. We essentially start two points guards from a creative sense. J'Covan is a triumph of calculated boredom. So fun to watch a below-the-rim fundamental baller embarrass the And 1 generation. Sensible Fiber fucked up Da Hot Slippity and Binky Thug Stunna.
Myck Kabongo ran the show well. He's intelligent and he learns quickly. "Oh, I can't do that in college. Fine. I'll do this. Basket, Texas." He's starting to figure out when to assert himself and he'll get to the line whenever he wants to at home. He threw down a Rajon Rondo stat line and flirted with triple double production: 18 points (on 3-10 from field, 12-17 FT line), 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers. Sometimes a stat line lies. This one tells the exact truth. He can start his own break and defenders consistently struggle to stay in front of him. Had a couple of regrettable passes. Really glad he's running the show.
Julien Lewis defended quite well (4 steals) and he's put down a deposit on the upper right corner of the 3 point line. He got most of his 11 on 3 of 7 shooting from there, but he was 1 of 7 from the rest of the field. Julien 2.0 will need to reveal a pull-up jumper and convert or get fouled on drives. I suspect he has more up his sleeve.
Jonathan Holmes is really offensively skilled. URI's defenders were all like: "Eh, get off me, Holmes." Comfortable putting it on the floor against bigs (did it twice), he makes his free throws (7 of 8), and he can pass a little. Defensively, Jonathan Holmes is...very offensively skilled! He has 11 points and 6 boards and wasn't shy about scoring the rock when the game was tight.
Alexis Wangmene was poor. We need more. More or less in the way on offense, blundered into J'Covan's spacing twice (Brown actually shoved him away on one play), and didn't do much on the other end.
Conversely, Clint Chapman played his best half as a Longhorn. 7 points, 8 boards, 1 block, but most of that was in the 1st half. We saw less of him in the 2nd as went small and up-tempo. Still, a lot we can build on with Clint here. For the second straight game, he brought it off the wing for a patented Chapohawk slam.
Jaylen Bond played much better than Sunday and he chipped in a tough 6 points and 6 boards. He's our scrappiest rebounder and gives us some physical identity.
Sheldon McClellan scored a hyper-efficient 10 on 3 of 3 shooting, including an acrobatic three point play dunk and a smooth 3. He's much more than a set shooter and his 20+ point breakout game is right around the corner. If he and Lewis can continue to come around, we're blessed with a wealth of perimeter options.
Sterling Gibbs played sparingly after he missed a shot and had two turnovers. Not great minutes. Struggled with athleticism in URI's guards. Doesn't yet understand how quickly passing lanes close up.
I like this team, as imperfect as they are. We pressure the ball well, your mother could score on us in the paint, and we'll live and die by 3s. Think of Coach K's weaker pure perimeter Duke teams. I like that Barnes let them play. He let J'Covan and Myck problem solve, he only took out egregious offenders, and everyone got minutes. I even like that Barnes made them play zone just so they have it in the tool bag.