On Thanksgiving, in front of a sparse but boisterous crowd, the Texas Longhorns avenged a loss against their most hated rival, a team so reviled Texas refuses to play them in the United States lest their evil empire gain a foothold on domestic soil. I'm speaking of course of the Washington Huskies, those communist dogs from Asia.
*listens to earpiece*
Right, sorry, those communist dogs from Seattle, a land of lattes and government control over...garage bands? I don't really know, last time I was there all I remember is the ramen was fantastic and they obsessed over coffee like I do over Kayden Kross. Texas won this game with aggression; while the contest wasn't quite the constant trip from one free throw line to the other we saw against Texas A&M, the second half of this game featured a number of two-shot charity stripe appearances by Texas players. For the most part, the fouls seemed pretty reasonable, or at least the no-calls & questionable calls seemed fairly balanced by NCAA standards. I imagine the Washington faithful will disagree with this assertion, but I would suggest that if their guards drove the lane with the same purpose that Texas did, the fouls would've evened out. A 42-17 free throw advantage for Texas can be explained more by Isaiah Taylor, Tevin Mack, and Eric Davis, Jr. driving into traffic repeatedly than a significant ref bias.
Texas' 1st half defense was solid, possibly the best 20 minutes we've seen from the team in games that count. Washington shot 33% from the floor and was getting beat on the boards handily(despite Texas starting the game being out-rebounded 6-1), so there were a number of 1 shot possessions for the Huskies in the first half. What ended as a 41-31 lead should've probably been even higher as Texas beat Washington in nearly every facet of the game. The second half was more even; partly because Washington began hitting shots and partly because Texas started missing theirs. Texas won this game at the line, which is an odd thing to say about a team that shot 20/30 from the line in the 2nd half(and it was worse early in the half), but it's true. They hit the free throws at the end to salt away a game that could've gotten away from them. Oh, and Jordan Barnett played approximately 11 seconds of regulation basketball, so we can scratch out the 'redshirt' option on his bingo card.
The 2015 Barking Carnival Basketball Mantra
"The gamble with a press(particularly of the trapping variety) is that your team will create more good outcomes than bad and distort the game in your favor, but this means as a Texas fan you're going to need to increase your tolerance for bad outcomes as well."
Let's just mark this as a TBD, because they only broke out the press sparingly. I asked Shaka if this was about what we should expect going forward, and he essentially said - I'm paraphrasing - that we shouldn't expect a ton of press for awhile, that it will be more situational than an all-out press this season.
Cam is averaging a double/double(11.7/10) this season on nearly 70% shooting from the floor, in case you hadn't noticed. He's looked good in the post, showcasing a number of moves that will bother opponents and making good decisions with the ball more often than not. About the only thing that could stand to improve is his free throw shooting, which currently sits at 11/24 or...yikes, OK, that's not good. If Cam can get that back up into the high 60s/low 70s while maintaining everything else, he's in all-conference discussions at the end of the season. Cam is eating, y'all.
Side note: after last night's loss, Shaka brought Cam to the post-game presser and nobody asked Cam a question. Including me, because, well, it was the 1st post-game presser I've ever done and I was trying not to get thrown out of the room. I heard the SID tell Cam afterwards that it was a waste of his time & he could've spent the time getting showered/changed. I felt terrible for not asking Cam a question because he's like a gigantic friendly teddy bear in person, so I swore I'd ask him a question at the next presser. Did I ask him a question tonight? No, because I came up with one question, the AP guy asked him basically the same thing, and I'm terrible at coming up with intelligent questions on the fly when people are recording my words. I'm terrible at this job.
Eric Davis Jr.
Oh, you know, just another team-leading 15 points on 5-8 shooting from Eric, no big deal. I think he's settling in, do you think he's settling in? Because I think he's settling in. I don't know that I've seen a purer stroke from a guard on the 40 Acres since A.J. Abrams - no, not the guy directing Star Wars - left the team. Every shot he shoots from the perimeter looks good when it leaves his hand, it's really impressive to watch. If he can play defense worth a damn the next couple of years, the sky's the limit.
I swear I'm not putting him on here just because he stared me down at the post-game press conference like he was Van Gogh and I look like a smiling ear in person. Javan's offensive contributions were timely - 4-7 from the floor and 3-4 from 3 are excellent in 18 minutes - but his active hands on the defensive end led to a number of turnovers that helped limit or negate Washington's attempts at clawing back into the game. Texas had 8 steals and the Amish Fire Hydrant was responsible for 3 of them. Credit where it's due, Javan played a good game and deserved to sit in the post-game presser.
Kerwin Roach, Jr.
(I always forget to put the Jr. on his name)
Kerwin finally broke out of his slump for a night, going 5-8 from the field and being a general pest offensively. His most impressive play - I swear I'm not making this up - was a defensive rebound. I know, I know, stick with me on this; it's not so much that he got a defensive rebound, but that he nearly touched the sky getting that board. He could've leap-frogged Cam he got so high. OK, no, that's not the best play(yes it is), the best play was the play where he was blocked on a dunk and still damn near put the ball in. I don't know, I can't pick. Neither of them was game-changing or really that important compared to some of his made baskets, but they were just so delightful to watch. At some point, he's going to jump over the whole backboard in an incredibly illegal display of athleticism and I'm going to post that on Vine for the aliens to review when they ask us why we should be spared as a species.
The Mixed Bag
Hey, being bumped up to 'mixed bag' is an improvement for Tevin. I mean, yea, Tevin was 1-8 from the floor, but he was 4-4 from the line, grabbed a handful of rebounds, dished a couple of assists, and all around looked the most comfortable I've seen him look on the court this season. His defense seemed decent as well, considering. I'm not going to nominate him for all-conference 1st team defense or anything, but he looks less lost than he did even just a game ago. Here's hoping he's trending in the right direction rather than this being a one-game aberration.
Honestly, I don't have a lot for this category tonight. I could mention the free throws, but that was largely due to Cam(he accounted for half of the 12 missed FTs). I could mention Isaiah Taylor only going 3-11 from the floor, but in context it wasn't so bad because he was drawing fouls(and went 8-8 from the line). The 10 assist/10 turnover ratio is not good, but makes sense when you consider the (totally reasonable) priority the guards placed on driving to the basket rather than funneling the ball to other players. These are relative quibbles in a game where the team took care of business when it had to.
Texas finishes the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament tomorrow night at 6pm CT on AXS TV against a Michigan squad that just laid 102 on Charlotte. It's a chance at vengeance against a coach responsible for knocking Texas out of the NCAA tournament a couple seasons ago. Also, nobody will run a fake kneel play for a touchdown, so there's that.