Look, I know one call doesn't decide a game. I know Texas has to convert more opportunities at the rim earlier in the game. I know that teams get home cooking, Kansas more than most. I know all of this. And yet,
This game was probably Texas' season, their last best chance at making the NCAA Tournament. A road win in Lawrence - where nobody else has won all season - would have basically put Texas in the tournament, given this squad a chance to play with the big boys, and maybe they get hot and do some damage. It may not be that likely, but at least they'd have the opportunity. But no, it didn't happen. This terrible call was likely the final dagger in Texas' March Madness aspirations. I'm well aware of the bigger picture, that Texas is probably no better than a Round of 32 casualty and that Rick Barnes is probably secretly packing up some of his office when he gets back to Austin, but it still sucks. It still hurts to lose to Kansas, especially in this manner. It's a gut shot in a game I didn't think I'd have to worry about being invested in.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Funny thing: Texas has probably played better ball in last four games than in most of Big 12 play. Might come out of that 0-4.</p>— Kevin Flaherty (@KFlaherty247) <a href="https://twitter.com/KFlaherty247/status/571824650381996033">March 1, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Kevin's right. Texas has been playing better the last 4 games, but not enough better that it counted in the win column. This team is the closest to 'good' it can possibly be without actually winning a game, they're the basketball equivalent of trying to get to 0 by dividing a number by 2 over and over. They held Kansas to 36% shooting(1 for 8 from beyond 3), set a school record with 14 blocks, and had the lead for just over 20 minutes of the game.
They had plays like this:
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They had blocks like this:
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They had Demarcus Holland and Kendal Yancy go a combined 5/9 from 3. And here we are, another L on the record. Sigh.
- Isaiah Taylor was a menace to Kansas today. He was en route to a triple-double at halftime and ended up with 17 points, 8(!) assists, 6 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers in an effort that can only be described as Peak Zay. I think he blew past Frank Mason again as I wrote this. He had a couple of questionable decisions, but when he's playing at this level you'll take that every time.
- Kendal Yancy is for real, y'all. This is no longer an aberration, it's bordering on a permanent ascension. He's playing with confidence, poise, and control.11 points, 3 assists, only one turnover. Defenses have to play him honestly, which is a nice change from the beginning of the year(or most of last year). His junior season should be a fun one.
- Prince Ibeh put in a solid 17 minutes of work for Texas, which was sorely needed due to the whistle-happy refs saddling Jonathan Holmes, Cameron Ridley, and Connor Lammert with as many fouls as they could stack up. He played under control and ended up with 4 blocks on the game. He made the most of his opportunity today.
- Rick Barnes pulled a lot of the right levers today. His inbounds plays attacked Kansas' weaknesses, his rotation was solid for the most part, and he kept the game at a tempo & style that suited his team. If he's going down this season, he's going out swinging.
The Texas Longhorns Memorial(™) Mixed Bag Category
- Demarcus Holland had a good game shooting and his defense was his usual solid effort, working his way over the top of screens and sticking close to his man every time I watched him. The reason he's in this category is because his dribble was problematic again. If he tightened it up, his lane penetration would be better, he'd have better results at the rim, and his turnovers would drop. That should be his biggest focus in the off-season, if he sorts it out he could be all-conference next year in more than just defense.
- Jonathan Holmes is lost, offensively. He was 1/7 today, making him 7/30 from the field since the tip against Oklahoma State. He's a drain on the offense if he doesn't figure it out, but I don't see how you sit him at this point in the year. It sucks watching him miss shots because I know he wants to help the team more than just about anybody.
Texas is now 6-10 in conference with 2 games left in the regular season, and any faint glimmer of March Madness has to include a win Monday night against Baylor. Tip is 6pm Central on ESPNU.