Texas played the Philadelphia Experiment this weekend (what if we paired 3 good guards with several big men pacifists?) and Mark Macon was nowhere to be found. Good thing it wasn't the John Chaney era Owls because John would have choked a Calipari after seeing his team back down on the boards. After a sloppy first half in which the Longhorns didn't value possessions and allowed easy drive-bys like they were Ricky in the Boyz N The Hood walking back with his milk and scratch offs, the Longhorns buckled down, got tough, and pushed around the softer, less athletic Owls.
Our lack of size has been well documented, but one of the unheralded virtues of Rick Barnes' Texas teams is a physical toughness that, if the opponent won't match, typically results in second half surge. We sported a 48-23 rebound advantage and that led to a 77-65 win in front of a raucously somnolent Erwin Center despite Longhorn shooters going 2 of 17 behind the arc, uncharacteristic turnovers (15), and inconsistent free throw shooting.
Texas proved physically and mentally tougher and Rick Barnes, contrary to popular narratives, thoroughly out-coached Fran Dunphy and the Temple staff on both ends of the court.
J'Covan Brown was in full old many game clever mode, particularly when he found himself without his outside shot (2 of 9 from the arc). He killed Temple repeatedly with dives to the basket for easy post-up turnarounds, garbage runners, and pull-ups from 15. I'm not sure how a 6-1 dude dominates the post like a mini-Adrian Dantley, but he had three easy buckets doing just that. He finished with 23 points, somehow didn't get the whistles for the free throw line, and was the best player on the court. He did have an uncharacteristic six turnovers, but a couple of them weren't really on him. Good leadership, good understanding of game context, ridiculous in-game IQ.
Myck Kabongo did a nice job of controlling tempo, particularly in the second half, and had 18 points on >.500 shooting. That I can't really remember any of his baskets is a testament to how he achieved them within the flow of the game. He had 3 assists with 3 turnovers in 32 minutes and played excellent defense on Fernandez. He kills it in transition, but he's still growing in the half court. A tendency to over dribble in the first half was replaced by screen, cut, go offense and we actually looked Utah Jazzy.
Sterling Gibbs popped into the game, got a basket, and Barnes decided to quit while ahead. Good call. Sterling isn't ready for prime time against quality guard play.
Julien Lewis struggled with Temple's pace and ball handling and played 12 non-descript minutes. He got beat on a couple of drives, was caught in overplay, and Rick invited him to take a seat. Julien isn't mentally fragile and he will have his day.
His minutes were ceded to Sheldon McClellan, who didn't shoot particularly well, but hit the boards hard and played solid D. He finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds, primarily getting free throws by driving to the basket, proving that he's much more than a spot-up wing. Sheldon has real serious game and I can't wait to see his growth.
The best effort of the young year. Some of that is because Temple's big men have gender identity issues, but our boys came to play and caps must be tipped.
Clint Chapman had 7 points, 13 boards, 2 blocks - dropping a Bill Russell style box score - and giving us his best (meaningful) game as a Longhorn to date. When Chappy is rebounding and altering shots, I want him on the court 25 minutes a game, minimum. Obviously, stronger athletes will handle him in the paint, but I was pleased to see Chapman assert himself against the weak. Note to Clint: when you're standing at the top of the key to entry pass, get rid of it to the wing if it's not there. Standing there like George Mikan on tranquilizers as passing defenders swat at the ball isn't good basketball.
Jaylen Bond was the most efficient Longhorn in terms of production vs. minutes played with 12 points and 8 boards on 6 of 7 shooting in only 22 minutes of action. The undersized 4 is a natural rebounder with a knack for finishing around the rim on put backs and he's a plus player in transition. He has no real offensive game per se, but he gives us sorely needed toughness.
Wangmene's minutes were offered up to Chappy and Bond and he barely made a dent in the box score.
Jonathan Holmes was a tad shaky on defense, particularly in the 1st half, but his offensive game continues to impress. 7 points and 6 boards in only 19 minutes would have grown to a double-double with sufficient minutes given the ease with which he kept making it to the free throw line. If he continues to handle well outside, we have the opportunity to tinker with Chapman-Bond-Holmes front courts for 5 minute stretches and that flexibility is key.
A nice win over a Temple Owl team that is all guard play and little else. This win won't hurt when it comes to stating our case to the committee and we're going to need all the help we can get.
Based on this win, I expect to beat North Carolina by at least 30 in Chapel Hill.