Jesus, that first half was ugly. I don't mean a cute, kitschy Christmas sweater party sort of ugly or a utilitarian but fatally flawed Pontiac Aztec sort of ugly, I'm talking about this kind of ugly.
Texas' 1st half was like watching a Gilbert Gottfried sex tape; there were unforced errors, stilted action incapable of producing any sort of rhythm, it even had a pale, sweaty white guy flopping all around the screen for 20 minutes before heading off to the showers for a break. It was bad. How bad? Let us count the ways:
- 2/10 from the 3-point line
- 32% shooting overall
- 9 turnovers to 4 assists
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Iowa's defense flustered Texas at every turn. They had Isaiah Taylor sped up so fast that he was out of control. Myles Turner looked lost & Cameron Ridley was apparently shot with a tranquilizer dart in pre-game. This pretty much summed up my feelings late in the first half:
If Texas plays like this against Kentucky, they'll lose by 75.— El Diablo Blanco (@Bitterwhiteguy) November 21, 2014
Demarcus Holland & Prince Ibeh were the only guys with their heads on straight in the first half. Thankfully, basketball games have two halves, and the second half was so much better. Not perfect, but much better. Jonathan Holmes put on his big boy pants at halftime, showcasing his leadership & shot-making skills as he put in 17 points on 6/8 shooting. Holmes' offensive execution opened up space for Taylor to drive the lane, and he took advantage with 11 2nd-half points. Late in the game, Zay hit the deck on a hard foul and was holding his left wrist. He was pulled from the game, missing the final 2 minutes. It's (hopefully) nothing serious:
Isaiah Taylor's left wrist seems to be OK. He was icing it at presser and blew it off as nothing. #TexasBasketball— Evan Berkowitz (@Evan_Berkowitz) November 21, 2014
Random thoughts about the game:
- Demarcus Holland was impressive tonight. His defense is stout, and he's 4/5 from 3 through 3 games. He keeps this up & he's going to start making some all-conference lists by the end of the year.
- Jonathan Holmes was the best player on the court in the 2nd half. His decision-making was nearly impeccable the final 20 minutes and he helped rally the whole team.
- I expect to see a couple Big 12 teams copy the token trap Iowa was putting out on made shots because it did affect the Texas guards. Both Taylor & Javan Felix showed a reluctance to try to break it with their legs, and a more athletic/aggressive team than Iowa could pick off some of those long passes Zay/Javan were throwing from behind the half-court line. If Kentucky puts out that defense & Barnes' staff hasn't made adjustments, that game could get bad in a hurry.
- Next time you're watching the game & see Felix run the point without Taylor on the court, plant your eyes in the paint and watch the team movement. It's not the same; the team slows down a notch with Felix on the point. While it's easy to blame Javan for his decision to go ISO on his defender, I think he might do it a bit less if the team moved around the way they do when Zay is running the point.
- And yes, Felix's irrational confidence definitely hasn't left him. Some of those shots were, uhm, let's say questionable. But hey, he was the leading assist man on the night, so let's give him some props for passing the ball some as well.
- Jordan Barnett & Myles Turner both had down nights, as one would expect of freshmen.
- While I've been writing this, Aaron White has shot 6 more free throws & made 5 of them. On one breakaway play, he actually slowed down to let a Texas player(Turner, I think) catch up just so he could draw more contact as he was shooting. I was having Dwyane Wade 2006 NBA Finals flashbacks for awhile.
The bottom line is Texas is 3-0 with an uneven but ultimately fruitful win over a solid Iowa squad. This is one of those games that plays well with the NCAA Selection Committee in March, so it's good to have that feather in the cap. Cal beat Syracuse so Texas gets Cal tomorrow night at MSG, tip will be 30 minutes after Iowa/Syracuse ends on ESPN2.