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Shooting From the Corner: Oklahoma State 65, Texas 64

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

The karma gods who rewarded Texas with a thrilling double overtime victory on Wednesday night brought Texas back to Earth today in a 65-64 loss that was well within Texas’ grasp for the vast majority of the second half. Oklahoma State ended the game on a 15-2 run, wiping out a double-digit lead that Texas had more or less maintained for a significant chunk of the second half. You could point to a number of reasons for this collapse, be it missed free throws, missed shots at the rim, unnecessary turnovers, but it probably boils down to fatigue. With the loss of Andrew Jones and Kerwin Roach II, Texas’ rotation is down to seven players. Unfortunately for Shaka Smart, this is not the weaker Big 12 of the 1990s where running 7 players (four of them freshmen) is a potential recipe for success. Texas put forth a game effort, but a double overtime game followed by a game against a team playing a half-court pressure defense with the added mental fatigue of dealing with Jones’ leukemia diagnosis was probably just a bit too much to overcome.

The Good

Eric Davis Jr

We’re five games into the Big 12 conference slate and Davis is hitting 41% (13-32) of his threes. Whoever of you says you saw that coming is a liar. My Smart Texas Basketball co-author Jeff Haley clued me into a weird stat; coming into this game, Davis had yet to hit a three that Synergy considers ‘unguarded’. Davis was at one point 0-12 on unguarded threes and 11-21 (52%) on guarded threes, which is exactly the opposite of how it goes for most players. It’s almost as if Davis needs a hand in his face to hit shots. Maybe Shaka can convince opponents to try bear-hugging Davis the rest of the season, because he’s been going off lately in traditionally low-percentage situations. He’s earned his minutes the last couple games, without question.

Team Rebounding

Having a lineup with three trees helps rebounding, but even with that said Texas is snagging a lot of boards on both ends of the floor. 15 offensive rebounds (44% of their available offensive rebounding chances) and 26 defensive rebounds (nearly 75%) are both great numbers. To put it in perspective, Texas had almost as many defensive rebounds as Oklahoma State had total rebounds.

Jericho Sims

I’ve been concerned about playing Sims heavy minutes because — to put it mildly — he’s limited in what he can do on the offensive end and Texas is already short of offensive threats. To the coaching staff’s credit, they know he’s a hammer and they’re putting him in spots to hit nails. Lob passes, putbacks, hook shots near the rim are things he can use his significant athleticism to do effectively and they’re largely only asking him to do that. Sometimes he ends up in the corner which allows the defense to sag waaaaaay off and clog up passing lanes, but I didn’t notice that happening much as the game wore on so they adjusted to keep him closer to the bucket (or setting screens, which is preferable to him hanging out in the corner). Sims is pressed into extra minutes because of injuries and they’re finding ways to make him more than just a body.

The Mixed Bag

Matt Coleman

Coleman was more good than bad today. He came back from early foul trouble to put in a solid effort with moments of individual brilliance. He showed another sign of learning on the job, regularly attacking the pressure instead of letting it consume him. He forced tempo upon the defense time and again, hammering the ball into the floor as he made the defense react to him instead of the other way around. His driving the lane is getting more decisive, and his runner is becoming a reliable go-to move. He threw some bullet passes to bigs in the post. There was a lot to like. A lot to like.

Hang on, I need to fix something. Bear with me for a moment.

The Good, Part Two

Matt Coleman

Yep, alright, that’s better.

The four turnovers were problematic and his offensive foul in the last few moments was something he needs to work on, but Coleman is starting to command the floor. If he was doing this with a full team, I have no doubt Texas wins today.

The Bad

Dylan Osetkowski

Osetkowski ran out of gas today, which is understandable considering he played 89 of a possible 90 minutes in the last two games. Still, his shots weren’t falling and his turnovers were largely unforced, both of which are in no small part due to his fatigue. He missed some free throws that could’ve iced the game, in part because he wasn’t using his legs as much to shoot. Texas needs to find Dylan some rest in games, short rotation or no. Speaking of which...

The Rotation

Did James Banks leave his feet in Austin? Is Royce Hamm an urban legend? Are they so bad that they can’t even give Dylan a couple minute breather? I’m not asking for Banks or Hamm to take over point, just go out and give a couple high-energy minutes here and there so we’re not at the end of February watching Osetkowski being duct taped to Jericho Sims & Mohamed Bamba like Reggie Ray in Not Another Teen Movie.

Free Throws

Missed free throws finally cost Texas a game. 10-17 from the line is pretty bad, and it was a combination of expected misses (Sims) and normally solid shooters (Osetkowski, Young, Febres who missed literally his first of the year today) that led to a 59% mark from the line. When your team is this depleted, the little things become big things very quickly.

Texas is probably 4-5 games away from Roach joining the lineup, and the hope is that by the time Roach returns Texas is still firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The next two games are not kind, with a home game against Texas Tech and a trip to Morgantown on the schedule. The ceiling and floor for this season are narrowing, and it’s up to the coaching staff and the players to keep the option of playing meaningful March games alive as long as possible.

The next game is on Wednesday against top-10 (?!) Texas Tech, tip is 7 PM CT on LHN.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Rydel.