Javan Felix will shoot you into & out of a handful of games every year. Sometimes it's the same game.— El Diablo Blanco (@Bitterwhiteguy) December 24, 2014
I said that with roughly 8 minutes left to go in the 2nd half, and for the next 13 minutes of gameplay Felix did exactly that. Without him, Texas doesn't make it to overtime. Without him, Texas might win in overtime. Such is the duality of having Javan Felix on your team; he's got a shooter's mentality, which means he thinks he can carry the team on his back. Part of it is because he's had to do that for entire seasons, part of it is because that's the kind of attitude you have to have to be successful as an undersized guard competing 1 level beyond your abilities. And let's be completely clear here: Javan Felix is not a starting guard for NCAA Tournament teams, especially one with dreams of a deep run. Javan is supposed to be a bench player, a Jason Terry-type instant offense guy who runs through screens & shoots spot-up 3s. He's been that off & on this season, and it has suited him. I suspect he'll go back to that role when Isaiah Taylor comes back(in ~10 days if things go as suspected). Until either Taylor comes back or Barnes yanks the inexplicably long leash he's given Javan, we're going to get games here and there like this one; games where Javan comes running out of the phone booth with a cape on. Sometimes he'll save Lois Lane and sometimes he'll throw the Earth into the sun, and you're not going to know which until the sky is on fire. That last play is emblematic of Irrational Confidence Javan.
He shoots an off-balance 3 with THREE GUYS guarding him. More than that, scroll back to when Felix catches the ball. Look who is leaking to the corner with plenty of daylight...oh, just Jonathan Holmes. It's not like he has a history of making big 3s late in the game or anything.
I'm hopeful this was an aberration, as Rick Barnes has done a decent job the past few games of limiting ICJ from breaking out of his dungeon. This may be one of the most disappointing side effects of Damarcus Croaker failing to progress & ultimately deciding to transfer; he could've taken over the 'offensive spark plug' role & planted Felix firmly on the bench.
This is supposed to be some sort of game recap so I won't belabor the Felix point(for now); let's just move on.
- The Texas Longhorns are really good at free throws. You read that right. After going 15/17 from the line tonight, the Non-Ibeh Free Throws(henceforth known as NIFTY because my slang originates from the Vaudeville era) are now at 78.7% for the season. If the NIFTYs were their own D1 team, they would lead the country in free throw percentage. GO FIGHTIN' NIFTYS.
- Kendal Yancy had a solid effort tonight on the offensive end. He forced a couple ill-advised shots in the 2nd half, but he was obviously feeling in rhythm. Good game for him.
- The 1-3-1 zone was an interesting wrinkle(even though at times it seemed almost like a Diamond & 1), and seemed pretty effective in small bursts. I don't know how much Texas will show it in conference play, but other coaches now have to account for it when game-planning.
- 9 blocks is good, though it reeks of a pyrrhic victory. These grapes, they are sour.
- The Stanford guards were unstoppable. Some of it was defensive lapses(Holland, Felix, & Yancy all had issues fighting through picks at one point or another) and some of it was a pair of Stanford guards(Chasson Randle & Anthony Brown) being on fire. Those two were hitting shots that were as contested as a defender can get without Maury Povich getting involved, so at a certain point you have to tip your hat to them. If Randle had a little better awareness of where he was on the floor, he could've stepped back 18 inches & added 4-5 points to his line. He hit about the longest possible two-point shots available on the court & he did it multiple times. That's something they'll talk about in the film room this week, I think.
- Getting outrebounded on the offensive glass by anyone other than Kentucky is an issue. It was bound to happen here and there, but Texas lost more 50/50 balls than I'm accustomed to seeing. Barnes is probably going to make these kids run enough gassers to make them all Demarcus Holland in a nearby trashcan.
- Speaking of Holland, he left his feet in the lane without a plan far too much. Some of those mid-air passes were ones DJ & TJ would get away with, but he ain't them. Holland needs to play smarter; he was getting into the lane regularly & finished at the rim multiple times. If they're letting you get to the rim, keep going to the rim. Don't out-think yourself.
Every team gets snakebit eventually, ask Kansas. The important part is how Texas responds; they have 6 days until they get a lowly Rice Owls squad in Austin, how are they going to use that time to remedy the issues Stanford exposed?