The Texas Longhorns scored a significant upset at Club Erwin tonight, beating the #17 Iowa State Cyclones 94-91 in overtime. Texas took the lead with 3:31 left in the first half and never trailed again despite an impressive effort from Georges Nieng and Monte Morris. Texas had a 13-point lead 5 minutes into the second half, but the Cyclones kept chipping away, and chipping away, and chipping away; they managed to tie the game 3 times in the last 4 minutes of the second half but never got ahead. Texas won this game by the skin of their teeth, but that's enough. This win is hard to overstate; if Texas is seriously considering a post-season berth in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT Tournament, they needed to answer a loss they shouldn't have earned(TCU) with a win they weren't expected to get. It's now time to build on that win however they can.
You want points? He had 28. You want rebounds? He had 6. You want assists? He had 6. Free throws? 4-5. Turnovers? ONE. He even hit a couple of 3s, and his form looked not. that. bad. In a game where the refs swallowed their whistles, Zay was able to adapt to avoid relying on drawing contact, instead conducting the offense in a way that probably made Shaka smile on the inside. There were significantly fewer "give it to Zay" plays called, more often than not he was scoring from positions where the space was created by screening & motion. Yes, Zay was fouled on that last drive of regulation. He also traveled, so let's just let sleeping dogs lie. I will take any game where our point guard has a better ATO than Monte Morris, because that pretty much never happens.
This was by far Kendal's best game since the early-season concussion; he was aggressive on defense, took the open shots, and had a number of hustle plays that led to extending Texas possessions. He only had 5 points & 6 rebounds in 21 minutes, but the box score doesn't really do justice to his impact on the game. He was all over the floor tonight.
Eric Davis Jr. & Tevin Mack
I'm combining these two because their collective performance shows a larger point I've been attempting to make for awhile: everything about this team is easier when one or both of these two are hitting shots, and both of them are capable of hitting shots. They have each been in slumps to some degree, but they both broke out of their slumps in their own way at an important time for the team. Eric showed a willingness to drive that hasn't always been there, and Tevin picked his spots from 3 better than he has in some recent games. With all due respect to the rest of the squad, this team's fate will be decided by how these two do night in and night out because they have a higher performance delta than the likes of Zay, Javan Felix, and crew.
I'm putting Prince in this category because I expected him to foul out in about 80 seconds tonight. Jameel McKay is the exact type of player that could cause Prince to rack up fouls at a prodigious pace, but to Prince's credit he did a good job staying out of foul trouble. He had issues guarding Nieng towards the end of the game - because everybody has a hard time guarding Nieng - but he really showed good discipline in avoiding cheap contact and managed to tally 4 blocks against a good opponent. It helped his cause that the refs were swallowing their whistles tonight, but any time you can get 30+ solid minutes out of Prince it's a win.
14 assists to 5 turnovers in an OT game? YES PLZ.
The Mixed Bag
The Amish Fire Hydrant hit some tough shots in the lane(5-12 inside the arc) and played with good energy, so consider this fairly light criticism when I say he was bothered by the Cyclones' bigger guards and was responsible for most of the 5 Texas turnovers. Not a great night for Javan, but not a terrible one either. It was kind of.... *removes sunglasses* a mixed bag. YYYEEEAAAAAAHHHHH
This LHN Graphic
Who approved this picture of Shaka Smart? Did he insult Craig Way's shoes during his weekly radio show or something? He looks like he's about to re-enact the curb-stomping scene from "American History X" on somebody. Texas won tonight, right? *checks box score* Yea, they did. Weird, you'd think Texas lost based off that headshot.
*no picture available*
Iowa State is a great offensive team, so it's not really a surprise they scored a decent amount of points. Still, Texas isn't going to win many games where they let their opponent shoot 54%+ from the field and score 1.2 points per possession. About the only good thing to come from tonight's defensive effort was that Shaka wasn't dumb enough to try a 2-3 zone against ISU unlike, you know, previous coaches. Thank god the Cyclones don't play any defense either, or else this game could have gotten out of hand. I'm not going to get too tied up over this because Iowa State has a habit of making even good defensive teams look like a beauty pageant at Warren Jeffs' compound, let's just thank our blessings we got the least homely girl at the event and get the hell out of dodge.
(Note: Tonight Jordan Barnett informed the Texas coaching staff he intends to transfer. Good luck to the young man wherever he ends up.)
Texas needs to stack as many wins in the first half of conference play as they can as the schedule is back-loaded with tough games against the top of the conference. They get the Oklahoma State Cowboys next; if Texas wants to create some positive momentum they need to take care of the Cowboys in short order. OSU is a team dealing with a lot of issues, not the least of which is Phil Forte likely being out for the season. Also, they're being coached by Will Ferrell's hairpiece from "The Campaign", which should be a win for a team led by Shaka's gleaming, bald head and immaculate goatee. The tip in Austin on Saturday is at 5pm CT on ESPN2.
BWG's writing tunes provided by Austinite Steel Grooves (SFW).