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Clanking From the Corner: TCU 64, Texas 61

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Coffee’s for closers, and this team drinks decaf

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NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve decided to institute a new rule for the recaps: if Texas shoots less than 30% from three, it’s called ‘Clanking From the Corner’. I actually instituted this last game, but they went off against Iowa State so it didn’t become relevant until tonight. For awhile I thought we might go two straight games without the new moniker, but Texas missed their last four threes — all of which were quality looks -- so here we are.

This team has an incredible knack for staying juuuust on the wrong side of success. Their last four losses were all within reach, all a missed shot or defensive stand away. This team is nearly as close to being 11-5 as they are to actually being 7-9. One made wide-open three from Jones or Davis in the last five minutes, 1-2 less turnovers against Iowa State, 5 minutes of them realizing they’re Texas against Kent State, something something horseshoes and hand grenades. Alas, this is the pain of being a mediocre team, there’s always some positive areas you see and potential that’s just out of reach. Texas is good enough to win against solid teams, but they’re worse closers than me at a Selena memorial concert after a flight of tequila. This is at least the third game this season where I called out an expected Texas loss when they still had the lead. I don’t have a statistical basis for doing this, I just feel it coming on; maybe it’s that they all have the pupils of a gunshot victim in the last 4-5 minutes of the game, maybe it’s that they’re all still so damn young, maybe I just have the least interesting superpower ever invented. It’s definitely not as good as the one Tim came up with in our podcast. Regardless, I think it’s fair at this point to assume Texas will blow close games until they prove otherwise.

The Good

Jarrett Allen

18/9, ho-hum. Oh, and this.

Allen had one bad half against Iowa State, but otherwise he’s been a quality contributor on both ends of the floor for the last month. There’s not a ton more you can really ask of him at this point, he’s doing work. He’s 6th in the Big 12 in block percentage and he’s 9-11 from the free throw line in the last five games; remember when that was a weakness of his? His flaws are getting smaller by the week.

Free Throw Shooting

9-11 from the line from the team, including Shaquille Cleare extending his make streak to 20 in a row. He hasn’t missed a free throw since the Long Beach State game, which was a month ago. A month ago only one player was hitting 70%+ of their free throws, now four are with Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. knocking on the door. If you want a tangible area of improvement, this is a good one.

Andrew Jones

Eight points, five assists, three rebounds, and a pair of missed threes near the end of the game that rattled in and out of the bucket at the worst possible time. Those were good looks, and they will be makes eventually. Jones flashed his passing ability multiple times, was more responsible with the ball than some of his counterparts, and had a game that in later seasons will likely be a 14/6 game instead of an 8/5 game. Tonight just wasn’t his night. Have I mentioned lately that Texas still ranks near the bottom of D-I in Pomeroy’s luck category?

James Banks

Banks is the odd man out on minutes in the post, and to his credit he doesn’t let it affect his energy. He runs the pipe well in transition — and was rewarded on a slick Mack -> Jones -> Banks transition bucket that spanned almost the entire length of the floor without a dribble — and defends with energy. I’m pretty high on his long-term potential defensively, and he’s a good teammate to have around as he’s regularly pumping up his team whether he’s on the floor or not.

The Mixed Bag

Kerwin Roach Jr.

Roach wasn’t bad, and he attacked the lane with more consistent aggression than I’ve seen from him in some time. This is the third game in a row where he’s been forcing the issue more than having it forced on him, which is a good sign. However, I felt like this was him trying to do too much. On the scale of conservative to aggressive, I’d prefer he default to too aggressive, but tonight it didn’t work in his favor. This is a fairly mild criticism though, there are little things he’s doing that tell me he’s starting to get a handle on his role; he attacks the PnR harder than he used to, his drives end with more body control at the rim. He looks more comfortable with the ball in his hands than he did a month ago. He’s starting to get it.

Tevin Mack

Mack put up six shots in 38 minutes, which is less than ideal. There were significant stretches of the game where he disappeared on the offensive end, though some credit has to go to TCU for their role in his fairly quiet night. He had 9 defensive rebounds so he wasn’t a black hole on the stat sheet by any stretch, but this was a game where he was a bit too acquiescent for what Texas needs. Shaka doesn’t need 20 points a night from Mack, but he needs to be in double-digits consistently.

Shaquille Cleare

I’m getting tired of talking about Cleare, and it’s really not Cleare’s fault. He is who he is, a quality role player with clear benefits & drawbacks. I’m choosing to try to appreciate his positive contributions because he’s not going to magically change in the last two months of his Texas tenure. I don’t really understand why they spent the first portion of the game trying to run the offense through Cleare unless their goal was to use Cleare’s size to displace Brodziansky in the low block and score/draw fouls. It’s not the worst plan in theory, but was quickly countered by TCU doubling the low block and negating any size advantage Cleare has on Brodziansky. Also, I’d like it noted I spelled Brodziansky’s name correctly twice in a row without looking. I may watch too much NCAA basketball. Any way, there were good moments for Cleare; one possession he got the ball in the post, didn’t like his position, passed it back out and was rewarded by the guard with a better entry pass closer to the basket which resulted in a foul and two free throws. Moments like that are where Cleare is his most effective, and the moments I’m going to try to remember over....others.

The Jacob Young

Jacob Young

Alright, that might be uncalled for. Young is trying, and Texas has to play him with Yancy injured, but he’s swimming. He took mostly questionable shots, made questionable passes, and his defense is questionable even if his energy is not. Watching Young play defense is like....is like...

Yes, that.

The Defense on Vladmir Brodziansky, Who is Definitely Not a Bond Villain

I said in the Pretend We’re Football podcast that this game would likely come down to how well Texas defended Brodzian...can I just call him Brod? on how well Texas defended Brod. Yea, so about that. Brod shot 9-13 from two and 0-1 from three, and generally got the ball in positions that suited his abilities. That’s a novel concept which Texas is still trying to reliably master with Allen, but TCU’s guards hit Brod where and when he wanted for the most part and he made Texas pay.

Texas is 7-9, 1-3 in conference, and their next three games are against West Virginia in Austin, AT Baylor, and AT Kansas. Those are all Pomeroy top-10 teams, including the current top two AP teams and the team that just beat one of them by 20+ points. Texas winning even one of the next three games will be a significant achievement, two would be highly improbable, and I’m not even going to dignify the idea of Texas winning at the Phog unless Kevin Durant walks out of the tunnel on game day. Strap in, kids, we just reached the Hunter S. Thompson portion of this trip. The West Virginia game is on Saturday, tip time is 3pm CT on ESPN2.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Bryan Gee & Deeizm.