Let’s get this out of the way at the jump: Texas was never going to win this game. Kansas went 17-35 from three, and it didn’t matter how well or poorly Texas guarded Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk — holy hell, I spelled that right on the first try — they were getting theirs. (Some of them were poorly guarded, but I digress.) From the start of the game Graham told Kerwin Roach II that guarding him from 22 feet wasn’t enough, as he pulled up from 24+...and hit. Svi was fairly quiet in the first half, but he took every sliver of daylight Dylan Osetkowski gave him and hammered home perimeter shots. Svi’s corner three on the inbounds in the second half was ridiculous, there’s no defense for that. Kansas is very reliant on the three this season so there are going to be a couple games they lose because the shots don’t fall, but tonight was not one of those games. Kansas has three guys hitting at 44% from three or better this season — two seniors and a junior, perhaps you’ve read something relevant recently — and they all increased their shooting percentage tonight. This Kansas Jayhawks team feels to me like what would happen if Fred Hoiberg deployed his Iowa State philosophy at a place with the deep-pocket donors of Kansas. Texas shot well on the night overall — the Clanking happened due to some late-game threes — but were trading twos for threes far too often to pull off the upset. Also, this is like the fourth sentence in the last five — wait for it -- where I used the mid-sentence digression. I may have a problem.
A couple of years ago, Cameron Ridley nearly notched the second-ever triple-double in Texas history by recording 9 blocks in a single game. That was against 258th-ranked Appalachian State. Mo Bamba came up 2 blocks short of a triple-double against KANSAS. This 22/15/8 was more impressive than Jarrett Allen’s 20/19 in Phog last year by a significant amount. Bamba put together the most impressive half of basketball against Kansas since Kevin Durant gave Jayhawks fans PTSD in Phog a decade ago. Don’t believe me? Listen to Jay Bilas ejaculate on live television after Bamba’s third (or fourth, or sixth) block of the game:
If the Alabama game was Bamba’s coming-out party, this was his quincenera and Sweet Sixteen birthday all at once. Part of the reason Kansas shot 35 threes was because they stopped going to the rim for significant chunks of the second half.
More from Bamba:
Two of the little things Bamba is doing more of: didn't bring the ball down to his waist, and used the rim to keep Azubuike from blocking the shot. pic.twitter.com/XQfvhCMyPS— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 1461 (@Bitterwhiteguy) December 30, 2017
Coaching matters, and Bamba seems to be absorbing coaching at nearly the same rate Allen did last year. This should concern the rest of the Big 12.
Coleman scored 17 points, hit 3-5 from deep, dished five assists, and snagged six rebounds. While everyone was (rightfully) going gaga over Bamba, Coleman was having a pretty great night of his own. There were a couple of questionable passes in the paint, but I’m more than willing to put up with his gambles because the ones that may not work out now will work out next year. Coleman was put against high-level veteran guards and acquitted himself pretty nicely tonight. It bodes well for the rest of conference play*.
*May not apply in Morgantown
Andrew Jones Returned
Jones only logged 9 minutes as he seems not quite ready to start again, but the fact he’s even on the court helps spacing while he’s there. Hopefully he works his way back into the starting rotation sooner than later.
Free Throw Shooting
Texas went 17-21 from the line tonight. That’s 81%, a number most of us aren’t seeing on a box score. Five guys went to the line and they all hit at a solid clip for their size.
Texas had 9 turnovers on the night, which is about 12% of their possessions. It’s one of the reasons this game was ever in doubt.
The Mixed Bag
Eric Davis Jr.
On the good side, he went 6-6 from the line and hit two threes late to keep the game out of “just let them dribble the clock out” territory for awhile. He also had active hands in a couple of situations where the Kansas guards forgot he existed, which, if we’re honest, we sometimes forget he exists too.
On the down side:
The interceptor.... chose poorly. pic.twitter.com/Qhxcgv3m1L— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 1461 (@Bitterwhiteguy) December 30, 2017
Davis can’t shoot 2-10 from the floor and keep getting the rock. I don’t know why Jase Febres got zero minutes tonight, maybe there’s something he’s missing in practice that keeps them from playing in games. Frankly, with the way Kansas was shooting tonight, it probably didn’t matter on the defensive end. Maybe Febres hits a couple threes tonight, maybe not. I’m not sure if the marginal difference between him and Davis is that great at the moment.
Osetkowski’s first half was forgettable bordering on flat bad, and while he found his groove on offense in the second half he was still getting roasted by Svi regularly. This was a bad match-up for Osetkowski; he is an inside-out guy being forced to guard a wing who makes a living letting fly with the smallest bit of daylight. Next time Texas faces Kansas, somebody else needs to guard Svi. I’m not sure who can, honestly; Svi is a nightmare for most teams. He’s probably going to make a living as a 3 & D guy in the NBA for a few years, and the Tulane transfer had to try to keep up with him. Sometimes life is unfair.
I hate putting him here; he’s worked so hard, and you see these moments where he’s thisclose to putting it all together. Everybody will think about his missed dunk — I get it, I let out a Charlie Brown-level AUGGGHH when it happened — but the fact remains he anticipated the Kansas pass well enough to steal it in the first place. His aggression in going to the basket is nearly unmatched on the team, and his decision-making on when to drive is getting better. Still, you can’t be a starter that logs 14 minutes and score as many points as I did sitting at home.
To be clear, Texas didn’t lose this game because of the refs. Having said that, John Higgins seems to enjoy making things personal and injecting himself into games in a way I’d rather not see. He gave Shaka Smart a warning for leaving the coaches box in the first half (who the f**k calls that in a league where Bruce Weber spends half the game boxing out in the paint) and then calls Shaka for a tech in the second half when Smart disagreed with a call. After they had a bit of a heated conversation, Shaka walked off and Higgins felt like walking after Shaka and yelling “you want to stay or you want to go” because that’s the normal reaction for a well-adjusted ref.
Things getting chippy in Austin! pic.twitter.com/4fyk6hkO2y— Kyle Boone (@kylebooneCBS) December 30, 2017
Shut up, Higgins. You are not the star of this show.
Texas lost at home, and their reward is going to Ames on New Years Day to play Iowa State. This is Texas’ best chance at taking a game on the road in the Big 12, a conference full of Ghenghis Khans with a crippling HGH addiction. That is to say it’s not a great chance, just better than anywhere else in the Big 12 as things stand now. Tip is at 6 PM CT on ESPNU.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Cyantific.