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Texas vs. Kansas: Just short, again

It's the same story as it's been for the last month. The Longhorns are now 0-4 in conference play and the time for moral victories is running out.

  • This one stings. Texas had the No. 4 team in the country on the ropes at the Erwin Center, but they couldn't land the knockout punch. They've left three other possible resume-boosting games on the board -- at Baylor, at Michigan State and vs. UCLA in Houston -- but this is on a whole different level. This was the best win left on the Texas schedule, unless you think they have a chance in Lawrence. A win over a team fighting for a No. 1 seed could have gone a long way with the committee. Now? There aren't many roads left that lead to a NCAA Tournament berth.
  • The story of this game was as much Kansas as Texas. When the Jayhawks turned up their defensive intensity in the final few minutes, there wasn't much the Longhorns could do. Kansas doesn't have consistent post scoring or PG play, so they're much better when they're forcing turnovers and getting out in the open court. Elijah Johnson, their senior PG, nearly gave the game away (1/11 from the floor, 3 turnovers) before Bill Self let Naadir Tharpe run the point. Point being, Kansas is the much more talented team, but they were trying to give this one away. You've got to be able to take it when they do, especially on your home court.
  • When you're trying to pull off the upset, you've got to win in these three categories -- offensive rebounds, turnovers and three-point shooting. The underdog has to take advantage of their chances to rack up easy points when the defense isn't set and they can't give the favorite too many chances to get clean looks at the basket. Texas had four more 3's, four fewer offensive rebounds and one fewer turnover.
  • Getting Myck Kabongo back will be huge for this team, if only because it gives them another option at PG when Javan Felix is out. Felix has been able to stay out of foul trouble for most of the season and you saw why that's so important today. DeMarcus Holland just isn't up to running the point against top competition. His stats weren't all that awful, but there were at least two sequences where he didn't run a fast break well and allowed Kansas to get the ball back the other way for a four-point swing. The old saying is that a bad shot is the first pass of your opponent's fast break; Barnes had to burn a TO to pull Nelson after one of those in the second half. That ended up being a big deal later.
  • I should probably mention something about that final sequence. Texas was down 3 with 25 seconds left and ended up getting a contested 3 from Julien Lewis with a lot of time on the clock. The Longhorns were caught without Felix in the game and didn't have any TO's, so it's a wonder they got a shot off at all. In that scenario, you'd probably want to go for a quick 2 and try to extend the game and not rush up a bad 3. It reminded me of the UCLA game in terms of poor late-game clock management. No bueno.
  • The foul trouble for Jonathan Holmes was huge. He was feeling it today, scoring from all over the floor, with 10 points on 4-5 shooting. Unfortunately, he was only on the floor for 14 minutes.
  • Barnes has a tough job juggling the minutes for his six young front-court players, but it seemed like he did a decent job today. Everyone of them brings something different to the table. Connor Lammert had 3 assists, including a gorgeous bounce pass on a backdoor cut from Shelden McClellan. Papi had two nice early three-pointers while Ridley and Ibeh did a decent job on Jeff Withey.
  • That being said, I'm going to call for a moratorium on Ibeh post-ups. When he gets the ball inside, it doesn't seem like anything good happens.
  • Ben McLemore! There isn't a clear-cut No. 1 pick this year, so he could be the rare SG to be taken first overall if the right team wins the lottery. If you didn't already know, he nice.
  • The Big Picture:
  • The Big 12 is down this year, but the schedule isn't getting any easier for Texas. In the next two weeks, they've got to figure out a way to split their road games at OU and Kansas State and then protect home court against Texas Tech and TCU. Realistically, at this point, it's about minimizing damage and building your team for a run in the Big 12 Tournament when Kabongo is back. You saw the holes in Kansas today -- a conference championship run is conceivable. Unfortunately, it's looking like it will be a necessity to keep Barnes' streak alive.