The 3-game winning streak has come to an end for the Texas Longhorns, losing 76-69 to the Kansas Jayhawks despite leading the reigning Big 12 champs for the majority of the contest. Shaka Smart's squad played at a high level for most of the game, but Kansas is a top-10 team and their recent struggles aren't indicative of the quality of their squad. At the risk of breaking out the Moral Victory championship banner, on paper these teams aren't on the same level in terms of talent and there was a solid chance Texas would get throttled by a Kansas team that has eyes on another Final Four berth. Texas came out playing excellent basketball, running crisp sets and solid defense all over the floor. They were the better team for the first 10 minutes of this game; Texas racked up a 12-point lead with 11:45 left in the first half and executed their plan well enough that Bill Self's hairpiece threatened to quit and return to the Amazon rainforest where it was hatched. Self was able to avert a follicle mutiny, and from the 11:45 mark on Kansas outscored Texas 69-48 to take the W.
Prince Ibeh played 35 minutes today. I'm going to repeat that, add some caps lock, and maybe learn how to use the fire emoji: PRINCE IBEH PLAYED 35 MINUTES TODAY. (I don't know how to use emojis and my nieces aren't around to help me, so....*fire emoji here*.) Prince was a delight to watch; he notched what I like to call Grandma's Vegas Retirement Plan: 7 points, 7 rebounds, & 7 blocks. He displayed incredible body control on defense, avoiding fouls while contesting shots. Perry Ellis scored 26, but Prince is the reason he didn't score 40. There were a number of times Perry looked to drive, saw Prince, and turned right the hell around to pass it back to a guard. I can't say enough about the job Prince did today.
Connor went 5-7 from 3 and his stroke looked so good Kansas had to tighten up all their perimeter rotations just to keep him from getting more open looks on the pick & pop. His defense was fairly good as well, though foul trouble kept him from being fully effective in the paint. It's a good sign he was able to log 30 minutes despite being said foul trouble, or maybe a bad sign of how far Tevin Mack has to go to fill Lammert's shoes. Glass half-full/half-empty, I guess.
Javan Felix & Isaiah Taylor Handling the Ball
These two combined for 11 assists & 2 turnovers, as Zay had 5:1 and Javan had 6:1. That's phenomenal for any guard, and more proof this ATO ratio in conference play is no fluke. Texas is valuing the ball on the offensive end at a rate I can't recall seeing since T.J. Ford roamed the 40 Acres. It's almost as if having a cerebral former point guard as a head coach is helping.
Eric Davis Jr.
Does he still look like a freshman to any of you? Because he sure doesn't look like one to me. He takes quality shots, plays solid defense, and seems destined to go off for 30 points at least three times next season. I fear he may be playing in the NBA in 3 years rather than 4, but that's a concern for another day.
The Mixed Bag
I swear, it's almost like he's trying not to dunk. He had a chance to send an entire section of KU fans into therapy and got cute with a reverse layup (which he missed). Even Fran Fraschilla yelled "watch out!" expecting Kerwin to deflower a backboard. Seriously, look at this runway:
You have a chance to end a rim's life in a 1-point game in The Phog; take that ball and hammer it into the upper mantle of the Earth.
Non-Lammert 3-Point Shooting
1-9 from 3 is a good way to lose your chance at an upset. Some of the shot selection was fine, others felt rushed, and almost none of them fell. Lammert covered up a lot of perimeter shooting issues today.
Prince is what he is from the line, I won't re-hash it. But Kerwin Roach is now the 2nd-leading free throw shooter (in terms of attempts) and he's hitting a shade under 55% for the year(3-6 today). Guards who can't shoot free throws are guards who won't see much crunch time action. He needs to continue to improve here if he ever wants to reach Zay's level of play.
Texas played an ugly game in Morgantown & won, they played a better game in Lawrence and lose. Such is life in basketball; the important point is that Texas got a 1-1 split in two games they were expected to lose. If they can continue to steal an unexpected win here and there, they will solidify their case for a NCAA Tournament berth. This requires Texas continues to win the expected games as well, meaning they can't afford to slip up against TCU again. The Longhorns host TCU on Tuesday night, tip is 7pm CT on LHN.