The good vibes from Saturday are gone after the Texas Longhorns dropped their first home game in six tries, losing to Kansas State 67-64. In a vacuum, the loss doesn’t hurt Texas’ NCAA resume, but it was one of their best opportunities to notch the four regular season wins they need to finish at least 9-9 in the Big 12. This means Texas needs to pick up at least one road win now, and their road games are TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Kansas. So it ain’t great.
You may be asking yourself why I used a photo from the UNI/Texas NCAA tournament game as the cover photo for this game. Every time I do a recap and USA Today takes awhile to upload their photos from a game, I instinctively check the Getty Images to see if they’ve uploaded photos from a Texas game. The photos from the game Texas lost on a half-court heave are still the most recent photos they’ve uploaded for Texas Longhorns basketball, and every time I see those photos I die a little inside, so now you have to share in my pain.
This was a good game plan for him, it played into his strengths as a guy who gets the ball within 6 feet of the rim and dunks. He played OK defense, picked up a few rebounds, and was the second-best Texas big tonight (albeit in limited minutes). When he can play this role and only this role he deserves some minutes.
He was too quiet in the second half, though that was partly due to too many other Texas players settling for threes, though that was partly due to Kansas State actively denying post entry passes. Texas was trying to get the ball inside — they did it well to start the game, then K-State adjusted — but in the second half those passes were few and far between. Outside of that, Bamba played pretty well when he got the ball in his hands. Wade and Mawein made him work for rebounds and he still got 12.
The Mixed Bag
Eric Davis Jr.
I like to think of Wildcard as a jazz musician, like Miles Davis. Maybe late-years Miles Davis. More specifically, late-years Miles Davis on the third day of a cocaine bender, stumbling onto the stage of a back-alley New Orleans club and soloing for 35 minutes straight. Sometimes he’s on key, sometimes he’s not; sometimes he makes unexpectedly beautiful music and sometimes it’s just crazy noise, but the band can’t tell him to leave because he’s still Miles Davis. This metaphor makes me smile, and I often think of it in the moments when Eric Davis does something that causes me to black out during the game. If you ever see Wildcard kick-save a ball twelve feet out of bounds and it goes through the rim after ricocheting off the face of a pregnant woman, know that this is what I’m on my couch picturing at that very moment. It’s a coping mechanism, and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re going to watch every game this year.
Davis hit some big threes and I swear he had more than the one steal he’s credited for, which is good. When he’s handling the ball in the half-court though, the offense just slows down. The passes are slower in velocity and slower to happen, the cutting angles are rounder, and you can tell when he’s kinda looking to pass but more kinda looking to shoot. I wish Jase Febres would wrestle more minutes from him.
Kerwin Roach II / Dylan Osetkowski / Matt Coleman
Here’s the general rule of thumb with this Texas team: if these three all play a good game, Texas is extremely difficult to beat. If two of them play a good game, Texas will have a good chance to win any game. If one of them plays a good game, it gets dicey. If none of them play a good game, Texas probably isn’t winning.
Roach: 6 points on 2-10 shooting (0-2 from the line), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers
Osetkowski: 8 points on 3-7 shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Coleman: 8 points on 3-9 shooting (0-3 from three), 3 steals, 4 assists, 4 turnovers
Both Roach and Osetkowski were scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game, and none of them were effective enough to keep Kansas State from packing the paint against Bamba. It’s not like their defense was doing wonders, either; usually you can count on those three to at least play well defensively, but it was inconsistent enough tonight to allow guys like Wade to shake loose for 16 points.
Neither the 2-3 or the 1-3-1 were being played all that well, though the 2-3 at least made Kansas State work for shots here and there. I still don’t generally like a 2-3 against a team who shoots the three as well as Kansas State, but Texas wasn’t exactly clamping down in man either so I get switching things up. It was a rough night to have a poor defensive showing; Texas started hitting buckets late but couldn’t get the couple of stops it needed to flip the scoreboard back in their favor.
This is the first game since Oklahoma State where Texas lost a game I felt going in that they should win or won a game I felt going in they should lose; here’s hoping I’m wrong about Texas two games in a row when they travel to Fort Worth on Saturday to face a TCU Horned Frogs squad who is reeling a bit from two straight losses. Texas should be able to generate points against TCU, the question is if they’ll be able to slow down a team shooting nearly 42% from three in conference play. Tip time is at 1 PM CT on ESPNU.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Derrick May.