An overtime thriller that almost wasn't overtime at all ended in a Texas Longhorns victory over the UT-Arlington Mavericks, 80-73. The Mavericks had a 3 ball in the first half counted as a 2 by the refs - they didn't realize they made a mistake until it was too late to fix it - which could've been the margin of victory for a UT-Arlington squad that came into the contest brandishing wins over the Ohio State Buckeyes & Memphis Tigers. Alas, being from that yawning hellscape west of Dallas, east of Ft. Worth, and south of anyone with a choice of places to live was too much for the Mavericks to overcome. It's too bad, really; one can only imagine what this school could accomplish if it were placed anywhere other than a favela at the corner of I-30 & Hades Cove. Their poor life decisions was Texas' gain.
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."
Not for the first time this season, Texas was the 2nd-best pressing team on the floor. UT-Arlington pressed all night, forcing Texas into some uncomfortable situations in the back-court. Texas handled the press fairly well, only turning the ball over 14 times on the night,and most of the turnovers came after Texas got the ball across half-court. While UT-A's press wasn't especially effective in creating turnovers, they did chew up time and cause a number of 1st-half Texas possessions to end with a hurried shot as Texas seemed to lose track of the shot clock on multiple occasions. It seems odd to call a defense that allowed nearly 48% shooting on the night 'effective' but the Mavericks frustrated a Texas team that seemed to have a brain fart any time it couldn't get Cameron Ridley the ball.
R.I.P. UT-Arlington Spaniard, you will be missed. You were the only Spanish person in all of Arlington & they needed you to class up the sprawling nuclear landfill that surrounds Hurricane Harbor.
The Amish Fire Hydrant showed up early and often for Texas, carrying the entire squad for the first half then hitting a number of timely second half shots. He had 18 points on 7-15 shooting and handled the Mavericks' press better than I've ever seen him handle a press in previous years. It's almost as if practicing against a press all the time prepares a guy for seeing it in real time. How about that. I don't know if there's a basketball equivalent of the Gaskamp Award; if there is, Javan's name is practically engraved on it 6 games into the season.
Isaiah Taylor (2nd half edition)
We know the scouting report on Isaiah at this point: he can drive in traffic, hit layups, and draw fouls. Other teams know this scouting report too, but it doesn't really matter on nights like tonight. Everybody knew Zay was going to drive the ball and he did it anyway. All 21 of his points came in the 2nd half, 13 of them at the free throw line. This is what Zay can do to almost any team in the country when they have to respect not only Cam but other guards(like Javan). Having an outside threat sitting in the corner when Zay is at the top of the key gives him the sliver of daylight he needs to squeeze through the trees as only he can. His 6 assists brings his total to 30 on the year, and he's averaging 2.3 ATO through 6 games which is a marked improvement for him.
(I'm feeling charitable and pretending his 1st half didn't happen.)
3-8 from downtown, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and he was an integral part of Texas breaking the UT-A press. There were a number of times Texas guards got into trouble, only to see Connor open and ready to catch any pass in his area code. We need to quantify a guy like him with something better than 'glue guy'.
Oh right, this happened
Somebody send that guy's ashes back to Spain in a nice box, his family should know what happened to him. Well, if they care; seeing as how they let him move to Arlington he's probably their least favorite relative, which includes Uncle Luis the pederast. (He only had to move to Oklahoma.)
The Mixed Bag
With Cameron Ridley fighting foul trouble and Shaquille Cleare spending a minute on the court checking his Tinder matches, Prince came in and gave 13 minutes of decent defensive relief at the 5. However, Prince continues to pantomime productivity on the offensive end, scoring exactly 6 more points than I have for the Longhorns this season. At one point, he caught the ball outside the paint and attempted to dribble towards the basket, which may be the only decision worse than him shooting from outside the paint. I've created the Prince Hypothesis that will be applied throughout the season: every time Prince Ibeh dribbles the ball in a given possession, his chances of scoring are halved. I haven't done any math to back this up, but I still feel like I'm on pretty solid ground.
The Mavericks have one player taller than 6'8" - 6'10" Brandon Williams - and he didn't play. Their best player is 6'7" and he's usually at worst the 2nd tallest player on the court for them. So you can imagine it's surprising to see UT-A out-rebound Texas by 13 and double Texas on the offensive boards. You want to know how Texas shot 47% from the floor and went to OT against a team shooting 33%? The rebounding battle was one of the two main reasons.
Shaka Smart on getting out-rebounded by 13 by UTA: "I’ll be honest with you, it’s an area where we’ve got to get way better."
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) December 2, 2015
Non-Isaiah Taylor Free Throw Shooting
Zay went 13-17 from the line, a reasonable 76%. The rest of the team went 4-10, an abysmal 40%. UT-A shot the same number of free throws(27) and made 22. That's reason #2 why this game went to OT, and it's starting to become a worrying trend. Cameron Ridley is south of 50% from the line and falling, which is a problem considering how integral he is to the team this season. One can hope he reverts to the norm, it could win a couple of games down the stretch.
Demarcus is who he is at this point, for better or worse. He's usually good enough on the defensive end that it more than makes up for his lack of offensive acumen, but tonight he wasn't good on either end. It's never a question of effort with the guy; he goes 100 miles an hour, but 100mph doesn't mean much when you're chasing your tail. There's a solid chance Holland's minutes dwindle as the season goes on.
A win is a win, however you can get one(thanks refs!), and this win will look better on Texas' resume at the end of the season than it does now as UT-Arlington continues its climb up the Pomeroy/RPI charts. Texas is now 3-3 on the season with a good shot at winning 3 games in a row before facing an impressive North Carolina squad 11 days from now. Next up is Samford on Friday at 8p CT on LHN.