The Texas Longhorns were able to overcome a sleepy first half to beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders 69-59 at home. That first half was...suboptimal, to put it nicely. Other than Javan Felix, pretty much every Longhorn was either not bringing the proper energy or dealing with foul trouble for the first 20 minutes. There were turnovers, defensive lapses, and poor decision-making all over the floor. It's lucky Texas was playing Tech and not Oklahoma or Kansas, because they would have been run out of the gym before halftime against the conference's elite squads. Texas was able to pick up the defensive intensity in the 2nd half, forcing more turnovers and making Tech take difficult shots, but overall the game was a letdown from the level of play we have become accustomed to seeing.
The Amish Fire Hydrant
Javan Felix ended the game with 20 points on 7-15 shooting and was the entire Texas offense for a large portion of the first half. We're probably overdue to bury the "Good Javan/Bad Javan" narrative because this season has been pretty much one long "Good Javan" performance. The binary concept of Javan either being all good or all bad is a relic of the previous regime, where the AFH was being put in a role that didn't quite maximize his abilities. These days, even on the days when he's not hitting shots he's still essentially "Good Javan" because his shot selection is excellent and he's contributing in other ways. Bad Javan is dead, we just didn't know it until well after it happened.
As if we needed another example of Zay's importance to the team, watching the Longhorns squad struggle to generate any semblance of offensive efficiency with Taylor riding the bench in the first half felt a bit like watching the Cowboys when Romo was hurt. Taylor wasn't at his apex today, having only 8 assists to 3 turnovers means he was playing like a mortal instead of the second coming of Gilgamesh. This is the second game in a row Zay has had more than one turnover, and the fact that it's notable he's committed more than ONE TURNOVER is insane. The current ATO record for the Big 12 is 4.8:1 by Monte Morris in 2013-14, Zay was tied with that prior to today. He's now at 4.31:1, which would be 3rd in Big 12 history. Zay is a damn sorcerer.
Team Free Throw Shooting
Texas was 12-15 from the line for a cool 80%, that's the best mark they've had in a game all year.
The Mixed Bag
Kerwin Roach Jr
Kerwin Roach has a world of ability, but is still a freshman and the gap between his PG prowess and Zay's is less a gap and more a Homer Simpson skateboard jump-sized chasm. He doesn't have the court vision yet to be able to reliably punish teams for getting up in his grill; his first half game tape should be Old Yellered behind the Erwin Center rather than force anyone to watch all the mistakes he made. The "highlight" of the first half was probably his decision to fire a transition fastball at the back of Prince Ibeh's head despite Prince being barely across half-court. I guess Kerwin thought Prince would take over from there, probably drop a Hot Sauce crossover on an unsuspecting Tech guard before dunking by passing the ball to himself off the backboard. You know, as Prince does. Snoop had a better 2nd half when he was playing off the ball and benefiting from the defense focusing on Taylor, picking up some rebounds and a couple of alley-oops from Gilgazay.
Texas had 15 turnovers - the 2nd-most this season - but it wasn't just the volume as the types of turnovers they committed. Poor passing decisions, losing the handle in the paint, and just generally not taking good care of the ball was a theme today. I'm pretty sure Shaka is going to have all 3 freshmen carry a ball to class this week.
I'm not going to hammer on Prince too hard because it was probably unreasonable to expect him to murder the world for a 4th game in a row, considering his history. He was saddled with foul trouble all game, and some of the calls were..ehh. The team won, move on and focus on a bigger task ahead.
Texas faces the toughest week in the nation for any team for a second time this year, going on the road to both Norman and Ames this week. These are the two hardest remaining road games on the schedule, and it's probably best to approach this week the same as when they went on the road to Morgantown & Lawrence. If Texas can win either of these games, it will be an upset for the good guys and another win closer to March Madness. First up are the likely #1 Oklahoma Sooners in Norman on Big Monday, and the crowd will be hyped to take on a Texas squad that's considerably more dangerous than anyone outside of the Club Erwin locker rooms expected in November. Tip time is 8pm CT on ESPN.
BWG's writing tunes provided by A. Paul(SFW).