The Texas Longhorns missed out on an excellent opportunity to take out a ranked team on the road, losing a tough battle against the Oklahoma Sooners, 71-69. In a game that featured 6 ties and at least 20 lead changes, OU made the plays at the end to seal the game. It's a painful loss, as much for the missed opportunity as for what it does to Texas' conference record. 7-6 puts Texas in the thick of the conference and gives them a chance to finish as high as 3rd in the league, 6-7 makes things tougher in a schedule with no real gimmies left to play.
Objectively, this wasn't a bad game for Texas. They almost pulled off a significant upset; Pomeroy had OU with a 77% chance to win the game before the tip, and Texas hasn't won in Norman in awhile so a 2-point loss to a ranked team on the road isn't really that bad. It's not a season-killer to lose a game you were expected to lose, and there were a lot of positive to come out of the game.
As a fan, this loss suuucks. It was right there for Texas and they blew it. It may not have been a season-killer, but it could've been a season-defining win and instead is another loss to a rival. This one hurts. I ended the game cursing under my breath because I could taste the win. They had it, they effing had it. Arrrrgh.
- Kendal Yancy was a revelation tonight. 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and for the first time was able to strike a little fear in an opponent's heart from beyond the arc. When was the last time you saw an opponent guarding Yancy 35 feet from the rim? His defensive awareness was great as well, watching him recover to tip away a long outlet pass by OU was a pleasure. A+++ WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN.
- Myles Turner was merciless against the Oklahoma guards, notching 6 blocks that seemed like 20. He scored 17 points & was 6/6 from the line, not to mention snagging 10 rebounds. He showed some fire on the court, barking after a couple of big buckets. By which I mean he was terrible and should totally come back next season because who needs money, fame, and an endless supply of interested porn stars? RIGHT? WHO'S WITH ME??
- Texas started a 3-guard lineup, their first possession was a 4-out setup, and they played about 90% man defense. Those are 3 very large, very important changes to the team that are in their best interests, and I think it showed in how the team played most of the game. Having an opponent who decides to play man defense against Texas helped as well; this is a significantly better offensive unit playing against man-to-man defenses.
- The defense held Buddy Hield to 4/16 from the floor and made OU's role players beat them. Which they did, unfortunately, but you can't really complain too much when it's Dinjiyl Walker(I totally spelled that without looking it up) that lights you up.
- Texas tied a school record with 13 blocks, including rejections like this one from Prince Ibeh.
The Javan Felix Memorial(™) Mixed Bag Category
- Demarcus Holland was good defensively, but pretty bad offensively. He made 2 3s which is nice, but he also had 4 turnovers including some...let's say questionable decisions driving the ball. The foul trouble was well-earned.
- Jonathan Holmes' offensive night was abysmal(1/8 from the floor before nailing a meaningless 3 at the buzzer), but credit due to him for battling for rebounds(11) and still giving max effort going after loose balls & setting screens. He needs to get his head right, literally & metaphorically, but at least he's playing hard and trying to contribute wherever he can
- Jonathan Holmes was 2/9 from the floor, but he wasn't the worst on the floor. That honor goes to Isaiah Taylor who was 1/10 from the floor and his 5 assists were largely negated by 3 turnovers & a number of other questionable decisions. If I told you that Holmes & Taylor would combine to go 3/19 from the floor, how much would you guess Texas lost by? 12? 15? Taylor was not good tonight.
- I don't understand how a team that managed to be so effective against West Virginia's aggressive press went so brain-dead against a simple backcourt trap. Both Taylor & Felix would see the trap coming and instead of turning on the jets, they'd back up and wait for it to close in. It makes less sense than watching Upstream Color on mescaline. Do Felix & Zay let burglars into their backyard and grill some steaks for the crooks while they load up the van with all their electronics? Let's move on before I start throwing things.
- Yancy hit a 3 to put Texas up 62-58 with 4:15 left to go. From there, Texas went: missed jumper, 2 made free throws off an offensive rebound, turnover, foul resulting in 3-point play, missed 3, missed 3, 2 made free throws, foul, missed free throw, foul resulting in 2 made FTs, made 3. I don't think that fully encompasses just how frustrating their performance was. They threw away 34 minutes of solid basketball with 6 minutes of painful execution.
I saw a handful of tweets from writers and fans talking about this being the final straw for Barnes. I'm on record as to my thoughts on the subject - and to be clear, I haven't seen anything yet to change my mind - but I don't think tonight is the example to hold up. There were actually a lot of positive signs in this game, and their level of play is on the rise. This is not a team that's thrown in the towel or stuck in the mud; they're figuring some things out and are started to rediscover their potential. Whether they figure it out in time or not, we'll see; whether they play well enough to keep Barnes off the hot seat for another year, we'll see. What I do know is I was locked into the game tonight on a level I haven't been in awhile, and I'm seeing some changes that have my curiosity piqued. It may end up being too little, too late, and if so we'll have a good handle on what's going to happen to this team and this staff. In the mean time, Texas needs to focus on their next opponent: Iowa State in Austin on Saturday, 1pm Central on ESPN2.