The world record for a human holding their breath is a bit over 22 minutes, a record I nearly broke in the last five minutes of regulation and overtime period tonight. The Texas Longhorns managed to outlast a gamely Iowa State squad 74-70 thanks to Texas’ ability to hit perimeter threes. Take a moment to marinate on that sentence, I think after the first 13 games you’ve earned the right to enjoy it in game #14. Inhale the bouquet, swish it around in your mouth, gargle if you like. I’ll be here when you get back.
All done? Well I have more good news: not only did Texas finally get over the hump in an overtime game (previously losing to Duke and Gonzaga in OT) but that is Texas’ first win in Ames in 8 years. The last time Texas won at Iowa State, half the country was convinced our President was actively trying to ruin America. Man, how times change.
A career-high 25 points including 7-13 from three, 9 rebounds, and maybe just as importantly only one turnover. Osetkowski raised his three-point shooting average five points in a single game, and his ability to nail the pick and pop three should have opened up the paint for other guards to drive. Unfortunately, they saw Osetkowski hitting threes and thought they should take a few of their own. Some went down, some didn’t, but enough of them felt like they could have made some hay going to the rim instead that it might have taken a couple of points off the board over the course of the game. Osetkowski is the only person who probably should have stayed outside as he went 1-8 from inside the arc. His other ding for the night was how often he missed out on an offensive rebound because the Cyclones bigs were boxing him out with a ruthless efficiency. It’s weird to see Osetkowski hit a career-high in points and feel like he left some points on the floor, but it’s probably true. He still put in a yeoman’s effort though.
Eric Davis Jr.
I’VE BEEN WAITING ALL YEAR TO POST THIS
However you feel about Davis (and wherever you are on the ED Spectrum, you’re probably right) you have to admit he was great tonight. As Andrew Jones continues to work himself back into the starting rotation, having a guy like Davis step up in a big road game to hit big buckets is...uhh, big. Davis had to play more minutes because of Kerwin Roach II’s foul trouble, and for the most part he acquitted himself well. His defense was a clear step down from Roach (who isn’t, though) but he played with good aggression. 2-5 from three was mostly good, but it was 4-5 from two that really helped as he consistently got to the rim when others weren’t doing it effectively. The front end of a 1-and-1 he missed late in the game could have haunted the squad, and hopefully was an aberration for a 71% free throw shooter. Over the last three games Davis is 7-18 (38.9%) from three; maybe he’s starting to get out of his funk. Davis presenting a reliable outside presence would make a difference when Jones is back up to speed.
Matt Coleman nearly hit double-digit assists tonight, dishing out 9 assists against two turnovers. That in and of itself would be great, but he absolutely took over in overtime. Coleman scored 8 of his 13 points in OT on a pair of incredible drives to the rim and four clutch free throws to ice the game. He ended the night with 13 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and is up over 74% from the charity stripe on the season. He was 0-4 from three, which isn’t great, but is a relatively minor knock compared to the rest of his work in Ames.
Texas is Undefeated on the Road
The Longhorns are now 3-0 in road games, including an incredibly important conference road win. Texas likely needs to win at least 8 conference games to make it into the NCAA Tournament, and with Kansas winning in Austin that’s one game they needed to make up on the road. Iowa State was saddled with a similar situation as Texas was against the Jayhawks; a home game on a holiday weekend with the students still out, which meant this was a prime candidate for Texas to snag. There isn’t a single road game left on the schedule that Pomeroy gives Texas the advantage in; Oklahoma State is a 47% probability to win which is the best remaining shot for Texas. The Longhorns will probably drop at least one more home game, I don’t think enough people properly respect just how ridiculous the Big 12 is this year.
Check out this nugget, from a @JesseNewell article earlier this week (https://t.co/NAaSxvcZni):— Ryan Clark (@LonghornRdTrip) December 31, 2017
Going back to 2001-02 — the season Pomeroy began compiling advanced stats on his site — this year’s B12 ranks as the 3rd-toughest league out of 500+ conferences tracked in that time.
Every win is worth its weight in gold in this league. Or maybe bitcoin; I haven’t checked the rates in the last hour to see how many thousands it has gained and lost and gained and lost.
The Mixed Bag
We’re in this weird timeline where a guy posts a 10/16 with four blocks and I just kinda felt like he should’ve been better. This may be a recurring theme in conference play because Bamba still gets pushed out away from rebounds and putbacks because he’s not as strong as older players. And yet, he snagged FOURTEEN DEFENSIVE REBOUNDS and had a potentially game-clinching block in overtime. He’s an alien whose superpower is making me take him for granted.
Kerwin Roach II
Roach was battling foul trouble all night as the refs seemed to have an eye trained on him at all times. Add in his four turnovers, ill-timed (and extremely questionable) technical foul, and inability to finish at the rim, and it was a rough night for Snoop. Some days, you just don’t have it.
Texas is getting better at the initial trap in the press, but they haven’t figured out how to consistently patrol the passing lanes behind that trap. This is the second game in a row where I’ve watched guards who were supposed to be covered up somehow fire off a diagonal pass to an open player which left the rest of the team scrambling to get back and cover somebody. A trap that isn’t followed up with ball-hawking the passing lanes isn’t going to accomplish what Texas wants. Interceptors need to intercept something, or else why are they trapping at all? For as much as they pressed, Texas only forced eight turnovers in the game which isn’t nearly enough to justify the increased exposure at the basket. Texas will have to work to improve on this, because the point guards aren’t getting any easier the rest of the season.
Texas avoids the dreaded 0-2 start and gets rewarded by having to go to Waco to play the Baylor Bears on Saturday, January 6th. If Jo Lual-Acuil is still out with a sprained foot, Texas will need to pounce on their chance to notch another road win against an opponent who is their equal. Tip is at 1 PM CT on ESPNU.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Foreign Concept.