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A Fool's Errand: Texas' Path to the Final Four Check-In

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the start of the season, I laid out a series of signs that this team was playing at a level indicative of a top-level NCAA squad. With the Lipscomb game in the rear view mirror, the Texas Longhorns are 10 games into a 31 game regular season. Let's see how they look roughly 1/3 of the way through the year.

Signpost #1: Texas is in the top 150 programs nationally in 3PA

Actual Result: T-108th

Prior to the Lipscomb barrage Texas was just outside of the top 150, so this is a bit inflated but still promising 6.9 3PA per game. It's a decent number, and depending on when Taylor gets back this number could push up some as more perimeter players get a few more open looks from deep.

Signpost #2: Texas is in the top 150 programs nationally in steals

Actual Result: 329th

Uh, yeah...this isn't happening. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised on account of how much zone Texas is playing, but steals simply aren't happening much. Texas seems to be content to concede steals if it helps funnel the opponent into the paint where the law firm of Cameron Ridley, Myles Turner, Prince Ibeh, & Jonathan Holmes is ready to drink their opponent's milkshake.

Signpost #3: Texas is in the top 100 programs nationally in turnovers

Actual Result: t-222nd

This is concerning to me, as Texas has seemed sloppy in most of their games. The Kentucky & Texas State games were both terribly sloppy, but even with Isaiah Taylor running the point Texas still averaged double-digit turnovers so this is more of a team-wide issue. Cam Ridley is the worst offender with 24 TOs, but he's hardly alone in handing the ball to the other team. I'm more worried about this statistic than most.

Signpost #4: Texas averages 70%+ from the free throw line

Actual Result: 161/223(72.2%)

This is encouraging on its own, but what's even more encouraging is that only two players on the team - Cameron Ridley's at 64.7% & Prince Ibeh's at a remarkable 30.4% - are averaging less than 72% from the line this season. The 4 players with the most attempts are averaging nearly 78% from the line, which would be top-5 in the country as a team. Hell, Myles Turner is hitting at an 88.4% clip(38 of 43) and he's taken more FTs than anyone else on the team. Texas as a team is 41st in the NCAA from the line which is amazing on a number of levels. I don't think enough can be made about the most prolific free throw shooters on the team also being the best shooters on the team. Oh, and Zay was hitting nearly 82% of his FTs before he got hurt. This bodes incredibly well as the conference schedule begins.

Signpost #5: Isaiah Taylor attempts 70+ 3-point shots

Actual Result: 8 attempts through 3 games

I'm going to amend this one slightly on account of Zay's injury to say he should average 2.25 3s per game(which would work out to 70 if he played a full season). Through the first 3 games, he's averaging 2.66 3PA per game. So, basically on target to this point, albeit with a small sample size.

Signpost #6: Jonathan Holmes averages 60%+ of his minutes at SF

Actual Result: Uhm, Yes?

Pomeroy's site shows Holmes getting 11% of the SF minutes, but the source of his data is a bit suspect. I think wherever he's getting the data from is flipping Holmes & Connor Lammert because they show Lammert getting most of the SF minutes & Holmes getting most of the PF minutes. The point of this signpost was essentially to track Holmes' success at moving to the 3, which I think most of us will agree has been very successful. Holmes is getting some All-American talk from pundits here & there, if that tells you anything.

Signpost #7: Ridley gets 20+ minutes against Kentucky

Actual Result: 16 wildly ineffective minutes

If I may quote from my own post: "Of course, any single-game sign has to be marked with the caveat that NCAA refs are terrible and prone to whistling at eye tremors so some of this performance is out of Cam's control." Check, check, and CHECK. Ridley has been a disappointment this year on a number of fronts, and the Kentucky game might be the nadir of the season with an O Rating of 14. FOURTEEN. I didn't even know 14 was possible. In its own way a 14 is pretty impressive, like watching a water buffalo kill its dinner by accidentally sitting on a raccoon.

Signpost #8: Javan Felix averages less than 22 minutes/game

Actual Result: 24.3 MPG

This is another of those 'Zay-affected' stats. Prior to Taylor's injury, Felix was averaging 19 mpg; after the injury, he's averaged 26.7. I expect this number to return to the 17-20 range once Taylor rejoins the starting lineup, possibly even lower thanks to Holland's emergence as a ball-handler & offensive threat.

Signpost #9: Myles Turner has an O-Rating of 102+

Actual Result: 131.6

Hey guys, Myles Turner is pretty good at basketball. Right now he's ranked #7 in Pomeroy's Player of the Year standings, if that tells you anything. If not, there's also moments like this:

This kid keeps impressing me with something different each game, and he's got to be impressing scouts as well. He's playing himself into a potential top-5 pick at this rate.

It's still fairly early in the season so there's a bit of a sample size issue to contend with, plus the specter of Taylor's injury clouds a lot of these stats. Still, early signs are encouraging for this team. With the conference schedule around the corner, this team looks like it has a legitimate shot of contending not only for the Big 12 title but a high seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.