Texas basketball moved to 6-0 on a beautifully designed and executed 3 point look from Jonathan Holmes with 2 seconds remaining in the game, sinking an inspired UCONN home effort, 55-54. The key screen was set by - who else? - Demarcus Holland. Say what you will about Rick Barnes and his offense, but the cat can draw up an inbounds play. We've set up and nailed that corner 3 multiple times for game winners during the Barnes era and every Longhorn fan in the building knew what was coming.
Apparently, UCONN and Kevin Ollie didn't.
There was a lot of bad (the entire second half offense, pathetic aggression level of our bigs, noxious officiating, turnovers) and good (persistence, team defense, Holmes, Holland, Turner late) in this game, but the Horns showed character with key defensive stops that allowed them to winnow down a 6 point UCONN lead over the last 4 minutes and steal the win in Storrs.
As an aside, UCONN was particularly annoying for their tendency to flop at phantom elbows and shoulders throughout the game and the officiating crew bought every one of them hook, line and sinker. Even after video review. It was madness. How about the next time a flagrant video review shows a Euro soccer flop, the offending flopper is assessed the penalty instead? NCAA officiating drives me insane. They're mentally weak momentum monkeys and succumb to home crowds constantly. This is why road wins in real environments are so precious.
The veteran members of the Texas front line deserves a good tongue-lashing for their effort but overall defense and rim protection, particularly provided by Myles Turner, was awesome down the stretch. Our bigs looked far too accustomed to rebounding on length playing against smaller competition rather than establishing good position and driving UCONN's skinnies into the baseline photographers with a well-placed block out. I'm looking at you, Cameron Ridley. I'm looking at you, Prince Ibeh. Their reaction to UCONN energy and aggression and some strange officiating was borderline moping. The Huskies repeatedly landed second chance opportunities and just edged us on the boards.
Team defense was extraordinary. Aside from Boatright and Hamilton prayers (they scored 37 of UCONN's 54 points on 13 of 34 shooting) the other Huskies were 4 of 22 from the field, with seemingly half of those misses swatted by Myles Turner (5 blocks on the game). Texas won by a point despite holding UCONN to 30% team shooting. Haven't seen that in a while.
Cameron Ridley managed zero rebounds. Prince Ibeh had one. So far, Ridley's early trends suggest a 15 minutes a game role player rather than the hype of a conference elite big man.
Connor Lammert was also somewhat passive on both ends, missing multiple bunnies and also succumbing to aggression from guys 30 pounds lighter. However, he did a nice job creating some buckets with his passing and hit the boards, at least.
Holmes filled the stat sheet with 13 and 8, doing most of his damage from the perimeter. Interior offense was non-existent all game.
The guards had their hands full with UCONN's scorers and generally acquitted themselves very well. Holland wore Boatright down. He also showed some nice moves in transition offense. Felix, Yancy and Holland wilted in the second half running point guard against the Huskies energy and ball pressure, but that's not surprising. Yancy went into a shell after a ludicrous Flagrant 1 call, bricking two wide open three point attempts, notched three turnovers overall, but he rallied to bury two late key free throws. I think this experience benefitted him. Felix played hard on both ends and had some regrettable 1 on 5 moments, but some of that was a function of the bigs doing almost nothing to pin defenders or set screens. If you don't love Holland, you don't understand sports, much less basketball.
Overall, an excruciating game to watch with a happy result against an opponent that played with a second half fervor rarely seen in a November home stand. Expect to see it again when we play in Lexington.
We also learned during the broadcast that Zeke Taylor is targeted for a January return. This team is pretty good and there's upside yet to be explored.