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Clanking From the Corner: Texas 47, Tennessee State 46

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NCAA Basketball: Louisiana Tech at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t really know how to summarize this game better than how Jeff Haley did in a single tweet:

Yep, that about covers it.

The Good

Texas Won

Nearly as important in the quest for a NCAA Tournament bid as collecting quality wins is avoiding bad losses, and if Texas had lost to Tennessee State tonight they would have their first official bad loss on the season. The Tigers are ranked outside the top-200 in Pomeroy for good reason, and woe be to a Longhorns squad on the bubble having to justify that on their resume. The good news is that Texas has no more chances for bad losses the rest of the year. The bad news is that means Texas has no more games where they can exhibit Jerry Jones’ decision-making skills in The Clubhouse VIP room at 3 AM and escape with a win.

The Defense

How do you win a game where you average 0.77 points per possession and turn the ball over 17 times? By playing elite defense; holding the opponent to 0.75 points per possession and turning them over 25 times. The Tigers turned the ball over on 41% of their possessions thanks in part to pressure defense and active hands on the part of Texas. The offense is going to lose at least a couple games for Texas this year if they don’t pull their head out, but the defense just won one and that’s worth putting in a mouth guard as we gnash our collective teeth over this steaming dump of a game.

Non-Sims Free Throw Shooting

8-10 from Dylan Osetkowski, Mohamed Bamba, and Kerwin Roach. Yes, the same Kerwin Roach who airballed a free throw tonight. He was a perfect 4-4 on the night in free throws that made it to the rim, which is as weird a sentence to type as it is to read. In his last three games, Roach is 7-8. That means he’s made his last seven free throws that made it to the rim.

Yep, still weird.

The Mixed Bag

Matt Coleman

Coleman only hit two shots on the night, a dunk (him doing that more is the next step in his evolution) and the game-winning runner (see earlier parenthetical digression). He logged seven assists, which is good until you notice he also had six turnovers. It was unreasonable to think Coleman would keep playing at a 6/1 or 7/1 ATO for the year and the last couple of games — 11 assists against 10 turnovers — is a regression that was probably inevitable. What remains to be seen is where on the spectrum between 1.1/1 and 7/1 he ultimately falls, because that will go a long way in determining where this team is at the end of the year.

Mohamed Bamba

Bamba blocked 4 shots again, including a monster block in the last minute of the game when Christian Mekowulu went at him in the deep post. Bamba has blocked at least 4 shots in a game every game since Duke, which is absurd. His defensive presence most nights is ridiculous, but tonight he ran into a situation that will be his main issue this season: facing off against a stronger, older big man. Mekowulu did a great job keeping Bamba off-balance, using his superior strength to largely neutralize the lanky freshman. Bamba didn’t go 1-8 from the floor by accident; Tennessee State’s defensive decisions and good old-fashioned strength impacted Bamba throughout the game. The Big 12 has a few of these kinds of guys, so it will be interesting to see how both Bamba and the Texas coaching staff handle defensive rotations when he has to man up against the like of Udoka Azubuike and Sagaba Konate.

The Bad

I can’t think of anything.

Three-Point Shooting

Turnovers

Entry Passes

Basic Penetration into the Paint

Shot Clock Violations in the Last Three Minutes of a Tight Game

Pick one, there is plenty of fertile soil to dig into. They were all problems tonight; I listed them in order of what’s most likely to screw Texas over in one or more games the rest of the season. I’m not going into great depth because it’s either something Texas fans are already keenly aware of or something that might be a fluke tonight. Time will tell and we’ll have plenty of chances to see which is a blip on the radar or something more concerning for the rest of the year.

Texas will have plenty of things to study in film room this week as they prepare for Alabama on Friday, and that’s before they even get into looking at film of Collin Sexton. Tip is 8 PM CT on ESPN2.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Fabio & Grooverider.