Mark tonight down as the night the Texas Longhorns punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, after beating the Baylor Bears in Waco by a score of 67-59. Texas was the more composed team from the opening tip, negating every Baylor attempt to kick-start a run and hitting big shots at critical junctures. Texas started the second half up by six and never once trailed despite Taurean Prince & Rico Gathers trying to drag their team (and Prince Ibeh's spleen) to the finish line by themselves. Texas is officially terrifying the Big 12. Relish this moment, and give a quiet thanks to Steve Patterson for getting Shaka on that plane to Georgetown.
Texas is incredible to watch right now; they have the perfect combination of under-appreciated talent, senior leadership, and about 4 different redemption stories all mixed in a bowl of MDMA powder that I'm pouring into my eyeballs every chance I can get. Look, I know basketball is about 4th on the average Texas fan's priority list, but you seriously have to tell people to watch what's going on in Austin. They're probably going to be ranked in the top 25 this time next week with one of their 2 best players sitting in a f*cking foot cast. This squad's biggest problem is figuring out how to drag their enormous testicles through the arena doors every night, because everybody on the team is walking around like The Rock in a sorority house. They're confident, they're loose, and they ooze swagger like Scott Drew oozes actual ooze. There are maybe 5 guys on the team I worry about having the ball in the last 2 minutes of the game, and 3 of them are walk-ons.
9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 1 bruised vertebrae courtesy of a frustrated Rico Gathers.
Prince was demonstrative, he was under control, and he probably made a couple of NBA scouts who were there for the other Prince do a double-take. He still can't hit anything from outside 5 feet, but he doesn't have to in this system. Every 4/5-star big man in the Central time zone who sees what has happened with Cameron Ridley & Prince should consider re-ordering their top schools because Shaka Smart is pulling some Archimedean wizardry with centers on this team. My god, I just imagined Myles Turner on this team. I may need to expense some wet naps on Scipio's corporate AmEx.
Holland has had a tough senior year, but he did what he does best in the second half: extinguish flames. Holland made life difficult for Taurean Prince in the second half. The guy who was dropping in buckets like nobody's business was almost silent the last 10 minutes in large part due to Holland, a quick skim of the box score shows Taurean as 0-1 with a turnover after scoring 17 in the first 30 minutes. Shaka calls Holland and Kendal Yancy the Energy Brothers and Holland brought the defensive energy tonight.
Isaiah Taylor Isn't Fair
12 points, 9 assists(and his usual 1 turnover), 4 steals, and one epic decision to trash-talk a dude twice his size. Zay with the ball in his hands is a force of nature right now, coaches are doing everything they can to deny him the ball and it doesn't matter. This is some CP3 shit he's doing right now, he's weaving through defenses and hitting the open man at will, processing the game at the speed of Fry after his 100th cup of coffee.
You know what I don't do when Taylor has the ball? Panic. Nobody does, nobody other than the opposing coaches at least. I'm going to spend the rest of the winter & spring praying to every deity I can find on Wikipedia that Zay decides he wants his degree & a reliable 3-ball, because he might be the best senior in the Big 12 next year.
The leading scorer for the team is buried this far on the positives because, well, I'm not very good at this. Lammert is as big a reason as any why Baylor could never bridge the deficit. His stroke looked as good as it did against Kansas and the results were essentially the same. Fran Fraschilla probably has him making a NBA summer camp now, bringing the total number of players in Fran's NBA summer camp to 865. It's a crowded field, but they're all worthwhile.
Ohhhhhhhh, that smells nice. Go on, take a whiff, there's nothing quite like the smell of Baylor disappointment.
The Mixed Bag
They only won by 8? Scott Drew kept his remaining 3 combover hairs largely in place? I've got nothing.
It's gone; it was buried tonight, and I don't think I can excavate far enough into the Earth's upper mantle to retrieve it. I'm having a hard time relaying just how impressive this team has been this season. The closest example I can think of is the 2008 football squad that lost in Lubbock, where this team is exceeding my expectations so far that pretty much anything at this point is playing with house money. (I'm tempted to cite Rick Barnes' first season at Texas; the parallels aren't that far off base.) People: start showing up to the Drum and take in what Shaka is cooking up, because this is something different from what you know as Texas Basketball. This is exciting as hell, Longhorns fans.
I'm going to warn Twitter, you need to be prepared to see this gif from me *a lot* the next few months. pic.twitter.com/J5LUskQW9B— Bitterwhiteguy (@Bitterwhiteguy) November 12, 2015
Texas has a few days off until they host the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday, which is a game Texas needs to not look past. Texas isn't fighting for a NIT berth any more, they're not fighting for a NCAA berth any more, they're - and I can't believe I'm saying this - fighting for a shot at the Big 12 title. Lose to Texas Tech and suddenly Texas is staring down the barrel of a possible 3-game losing streak as the visit Norman and Ames next week. Tip time for Tech is 1pm CT on LHN.
BWG's writing tunes provided by Alexi Di Stefano (SFWish).