I’ve said before that one of the reasons I prefer college basketball over the NBA is that their struggles make the game more relatable. NBA offenses are so smooth, the players so gifted, that it’s easy to forget how ridiculously difficult it is to nail a step-back three against a 6’ 8” human-alien hybrid with a 7’ 2” wingspan and a 35” vert. Basketball is a hard game and even high-level D-I programs have weaknesses that remind you of the difficulty of coordinating all of this movement into a made basket, and I recognize the grind of executing an offense that results in a clean look and points on the scoreboard.
Texas was extremely relatable tonight.
The Texas Longhorns went a scintillating 2-22 from three tonight and lost 61-58. There’s a couple of ways you could look at that; the obvious first take is SWEET CHRIST TWO OF TWENTY-FUCKING-TWO DID THEY SHOOT WITH THEIR FEET and the second is SWEET CHRIST TWO OF TWENTY-FUCKING-TWO AND THEY NEARLY WON. Both have their merits. I said on Pretend We’re Football this week that Oklahoma State’s ability to shoot threes meant they were likely to knock off a couple of teams they otherwise have no business beating, so I guess you can blame me for breathing this result into existence. I mean, it’s not like I got a stupid technical foul because I can’t keep my goddamn mouth shut despite being halfway through my senior year, but I did say the Cowboys can hit threes so it’s probably on me.
Texas was down 17 points at the half and could’ve packed it in. They didn’t, they fought back and got it to within one at 59-58. They did this despite being nearly as cold from three in the second half as they were in the first because they found creases in the defense and got into the lane more reliably. The coaching staff ran at least three different plays with Hayes getting the ball in the high post which resulted in lay-ups, dunks, and open looks for a variety of players. They tightened up the diamond press, guarded Lindy Waters closer, and generally played the kind of basketball they should’ve been playing the whole forty minutes. The gap was too big to make up so this falls squarely into the ‘moral victory’ category, but it’s something Texas needs to show because this will not be the last deficit they face this season.
Hayes had 13 points (5-8 shooting), 6 rebounds, and four blocks. He was the one player Oklahoma State had no answer for all game, and the staff tried to get him involved as much as possible. Some people have asked why Texas runs the dribble weave at the top of the arc; there are a couple of reasons for it, but one is that it allows them to randomize when Hayes comes in for the screen which in turn randomizes when he’s rolling to the rim for a pass or a lob. They also put in a wrinkle where Hayes screens then pops out to the free throw line where he can drive to the basket, which has another wrinkle where Dylan Osetkowski dives from the corner for a lob. Hayes’ passing ability is being exploited in new and interesting ways, the coaches are like a kid in a candy store with this guy. It’s also worth noting he played 31 minutes and picked up exactly one foul. Progress.
Free Throw Shooting
Texas was 10-12 (83.3%) from the line tonight. That played a big part in the comeback.
Kerwin Roach II
All of these statements can simultaneously be true:
- Texas doesn’t make this comeback without Roach’s ability to get in the lane.
- That technical foul was dumb and avoidable and he should know better.
- Roach had more offensive rebounds than anyone else in burnt orange.
- What. The Hell. Was That. Last. Play.
When you are trying to come back from a huge deficit, so many things have to go your way for it to happen. You have to hit enough shots, you have to generate turnovers, you have to win 50/50 balls, and you absolutely cannot shoot yourself in the foot by acting like an idiot. Snoop has a long history of jawing on the court; I’m not one to get upset about trash talk if you can back it up, and I don’t think whatever he said was enough to earn the tech. But you can’t go swiping the ball out of another guy’s hand right in front of the ref, man; you have been playing D-I ball for 3.5 years, you have to be smarter than that. That’s two points that could have flipped the game on its ear in the late going. You want to be a leader, don’t do stupid shit.
This was definitely in the ‘bad’ category in the first half, but Texas improved significantly in the second half. They went from like and 8-1 deficit to 12-7, and the defensive rebounding deficit shrank from a yawning Sarlacc to a Bear Grylls fissure.
Did you realize it was possible to pick up 12 fouls in 11 minutes? Because Ramey somehow managed that; I’m not even mad, that was impressive. He quietly has as big a problem with fouling on unnecessary reaches as Hayes, and it’s one of his main limitations. I don’t doubt his effort or his long-term ceiling, but he has got to dial that back a notch until his selectiveness improves.
Do I Even Have to Say It
Texas comes home to Austin to play Texas Tech on Saturday. With the two defenses involved in that game, there’s a good chance the first one to 50 wins. Tip is at 1 PM CT on LHN.
In other news, the women’s team is 2-0 in Big 12 play and ranked #11. They play Oklahoma and Iowa State this week.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by John ‘00’ Fleming.