The nascent Big 12 tournament hopes for the Texas Longhorns were snuffed out by Texas Tech tonight, ending a chance for Texas to not only wrap up a NCAA Tournament bid but advance their seed line a couple of notches. It wasn’t a bad loss despite ESPN hammering home their stats that said if Texas lost the game they would have to disband their athletic department and self-deport to Guatemala within 72 hours. Still, it is a lost opportunity for a team that has spent enough time on the bubble they have an option to purchase the bubble outright. Now Texas gets to spend ~64 hours waiting and watching the rest of the bubble teams battle for their spot.
With what seems like the end of the Wildcard tenure on the 40 Acres, this gif is up for grabs again. Honestly, what Jacob Young did tonight far exceeded anything Eric Davis Jr. did in a game so this gif should be his going forward regardless of how long Wildcard is in uniform.
I hope the training staff brought dry ice to the game, because regular ice isn’t going to cool off Mr. Young. That wasn’t a guy getting hot, that wasn’t even NBA Jam on fire mode, that was Gus Johnson climaxing at the tail end of a seven-hour tantric yoga workshop crossed with ESPN executives finding out Tim Tebow has a son who can hit a curveball. Jacob Young shut us all up for a night, and honestly the past five games he’s been a great sixth man by any reasonable standard. Young has quietly become the embodiment of Jeff Haley’s treatise on the growth curve of 4-star recruits who are ranked outside the top 60 in a class, and if he continues this trend he’s going to be an increasingly invaluable role player the next two years. Young missed a couple of free throws and late shots that could have extended Texas’ chances, but he did more than enough to keep Texas in the game with 29 points on 17 shots.
Speaking of growth curves, Coleman is exhibiting one of his own. He is driving the ball with more authority, using his shiftiness and ability to stop & start on a dime to really open up weak spots in defenses. His solid handle and agility are starting to shine as he drags defenders up and down the baseline; it’s been a few years since Texas had a ballhandler who was able to reliably run the baseline and maintain his dribble. Hitting 5-11 from two was solid, and nailing all 10 free throws was clutch. Since Coleman missed those three free throws against Texas Tech in Lubbock, he’s 31-34 from the line. His 0-fer from three is not great, but all of his looks seemed decent to my recollection. In the offseason, he needs to work on his footwork to improve that shot.
Our Weekends Are Free
If you needed some time to do your taxes or plant some shrubs, Texas has politely opened up some space in your calendar to take care of any overdue errands. This group is all about silver linings, you see.
The Mixed Bag
Bamba is clearly not 100% and appeared to be on a minutes restriction based upon the substitution pattern they used. It was also apparent when you watched guys drive on him, he was letting people slide by who he normally challenged more aggressively. A completely healthy Bamba blocks at least two of the shots Tech scored, not to mention scores a few extra points. He still played through pain and hit the only non-Young three on the night, and if he’s closer to 90% in a week then Texas has a better shot of making a run.
The Rest of the Starters Not Named Sims
Dylan Osetkowski, Jase Febres, and Kerwin Roach II combined for 8 points on 4-19 shooting, and that somehow undersells their struggles. While some credit has to be given to the Texas Tech defense — they’re one of the few teams with a more efficient defense than Texas this season — some of this falls onto the players themselves. Osetkowski was beaten to several rebounds, Roach wasn’t able to get in any rhythm and finished without a single assist, and Febres is currently being broadcast in the KC area under an amber alert even though they have no description because nobody has seen his face in 20 hours. As Tim Preston, noted emotional anchor of the legendary Pretend We’re Football podcast, likes to say, Texas can win if two or three of the Roach, Osetkowski, Coleman trio play well. If one plays well, it starts to get difficult in a hurry. Tonight could have been a double-digit loss if not for Super Saiyan up there in the ‘Good’ category because Osetkowski and Roach were mostly non-factors. At halftime, Shaka Smart told the sideline reporter that he had three or four players who wanted to be warriors and he needed five; it’s pretty easy to figure out who he was talking about in that answer.
ESPN unveiled their BPI system six years ago as being on par with Pomeroy and better than RPI in predicting the success of tournament teams. Since then, ESPN has expanded it to predict which teams will make it into the tournament and which will not, which as you may have guessed wasn’t its original intent. ESPN loves throwing this measurement around as a way to hype up the value of a specific outcome, like tonight when they flashed up that Texas was 98% in the tournament with a win and 37% with a loss. Mind you, this is the same BPI that has Texas #30 in their BPI ranks as I type this recap. How exactly is a team that’s ~38 spots away from the line the same team that has a less than 40% chance of making the tournament? This metric is trash.
Robbie Hummel was fine on the broadcast, I think he’s doing alright given that he’s still fairly new on the job. His play-by-play guy was another story. I don’t have an issue with play-by-play guys adding a bit of color to a broadcast if they display some level of knowledge about what’s going on, but Flemming was watching a different game than the rest of us. His concept of contested vs uncontested shots was completely out of whack, he would regularly call a wide-open three contested if it was missed. He also hammered on the BPI like it was gospel, which is fraught with its own problems. It was almost as if being stuck calling a game with a few hundred fans forced him to try to ramp up the drama by talking like Texas was in a life or death situation. It was too much.
Texas’ next game is TBD, and we won’t find out until Sunday afternoon if they’re in the NCAA Tournament. I feel like Texas is probably in at this point, but if you’re looking for ways to maximize Texas’ chances then you should probably root against Baylor, Kansas State, UCLA, USC, Alabama, and any mid-major conferences stealing two bids when they should only have one. Chalk is your friend this weekend. Other than that, there’s a whole lot of nothing Texas can do.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Patrick DSP.