I don’t have a pithy way to start this recap, my blood pressure is still being measured in scientific notation and I’m only minimally processing the emotional swings experienced in the second half of an 84-83 Texas Longhorns victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. For the last 7-8 minutes of the game, the dread of impending doom slowly crept over my living room as I watched the Longhorns yet again attempt to hand a victory to an opponent in a gift-wrapped box like they were re-gifting an unwanted blender to an uncle they secretly hated. Texas — who had been so good at taking care of the ball for 30 minutes — decided now it was a good time to reenact the first four minutes of the Kansas game as some sort of performance art, teaching us all to respect our elders or to fund the arts or that happiness comes from within; I was an economics major, performance art was never my thing. All I know is that I felt my stomach being replaced by a cauldron of rage, my thin veneer of feigned objectivity about Texas melting away as my skin disintegrated into a bubbling pond of frustration and my eyes were replaced by swords, my hands replaced with Howitzers aimed straight at this team’s collective brain-lock. I was ready to spew invective across the 40 Acres, my brain was swirling with uninvented curse words like an obscene Shai-Hulud fever dream, releasing the kind of bile that would make a Bene Gesserit blush.
Then Andrew Jones made a three, and it all swallowed itself.
Texas has problems, tonight doesn’t change that. They still barely beat another team with a losing record at home, they still escaped with a win by the barest of margins. But for one night, this team got over the speed bumps they placed in their own way. For one night, they hit the big shots they needed to hit. For one night, the opponent was the one who swallowed their own tongue in the clutch. So tonight, they celebrate. They enjoy the taste of victory on their lips that’s eluded them for the better part of three weeks, and they sleep a little better for it.
Fran Fraschilla said during the telecast that Cleare has the worst vertical jump in the Big 12, and he’s probably right. That said, Cleare used every bit of that 8-inch vert to dominate the Sooners in the paint. That flat-ass jump-hook — can we call it a hop-hook? — wore out the Oklahoma bigs all night to the tune of 23 points on 10-14 shooting while holding Khadeem Lattin to four points on the other end of the floor. Cleare played 31 minutes and was excellent for every damn one of them. Hats off to the big Bahamaian on maybe his best night in burnt orange.
Eric Davis Jr.
While it wasn’t the three that will garner all the attention, Andrew Jones’ heroics wouldn’t have been possible without Davis hitting a big three 11 seconds earlier. Davis was 5-10 from three on the night and is now 13-37 from three in conference play, which is a respectable 35%. This is his main contribution to the team offensively, so him hitting north of 33% from distance helps tremendously. He was also able to put in extended minutes without getting into foul trouble, no small feat in a game where Oklahoma had so many players in foul trouble Lon Kruger played 12(!) guys.
Andrew Jones’ Father
When your son hits a game-winning 3 and you knew it was going in the whole time. pic.twitter.com/UtqM1kXH2K— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 1461 (@Bitterwhiteguy) January 24, 2017
Dad’s seen this movie before.
The Mixed Bag
I could start with the game-winner, or I could start with him going 3-3 from three, or I could start with this play.
It showcases these guys in their element, in transition displaying their elite athleticism to stunning effect. When you can get athletes in space, basketball gets much simpler. In the open floor, Jones is less free than he is unleashed. He took 10 shots and missed two, one layup and one free throw. We all saw the game-winner, but Jones had ice in his veins the entire second half.
The Mixed Bag
Kerwin Roach Jr.
For the first thirty minutes of the game, Roach displayed quality judgement at the point. He had 8 assists to two turnovers, which is a ratio I will take any day of the week. He didn’t make great decisions towards the end of the game, but they weren’t the worst problem on the team. Unfortunately, a problem that surfaced against Kansas that has repeated itself tonight: Roach isn’t finishing at the rim. He is now 3-15 inside the arc in the last two games, mostly due to missed layups. He seems to be playing to draw contact/fouls rather than trying to score and leave the referees to decide whatever they might. This isn’t a problem unique to Roach, Isaiah Taylor went through a period of adjustment as well. However, that’s not his only issue. Roach went 4-10 from the free throw line and is now shooting 57% from the line in Big 12 games. It’s a problem that’s cancelling out his improvement at the PnR game, and is making it harder for the big (usually Allen) to get open as well. These are the areas where Matt Coleman will hopefully improve the offense. Oh, and there was the time he was a human NOOOOPE meme, running away from Kristian Doolittle on defense at a point when Doolittle was lining up a three that brought his point total to 27 on the night. That was Doolittle’s fourth made three of the night.
It feels weird putting a guy who had a double-double in this category, but Allen was 3-14 from the field — including a three in the stat sheet I don’t recall him taking — and had a number of bad turnovers, including four in the last 8 minutes of the game. This was not his best night, though he did remain active on the glass until the end.
I’m going to focus on the positive, say his free throw form looked nice, and move on before I break my laptop in half recounting his defensive decisions.
Texas takes their one-game win streak on the road to Georgia as they face the Bulldogs for the Big 12/SEC showdown on Saturday. Texas is currently 0-5 in true road games this season, so while a win would be a nice sign the young Longhorns are figuring things out, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Tip is at 3pm CT on ESPN.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Carl Cox.