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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 89, High Point 58

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 21 Texas at Providence Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’ve been rewatching Mr. Robot lately. The show finished a couple weeks back and ended so well, I was interested in watching the old seasons to see how much groundwork they laid for the finale. I’m most of the way through the second season and it’s been great; I’m picking up so many clues and little beats that mean more now that I know what’s coming. Some questions that get demurred instead of answered turn into important plot points, there’s a whole section of one episode in season one that’s played as a hallucination which actually includes a scene from the last episode of the entire series. It’s such a well-crafted show, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Why am I talking about Mr. Robot, you might ask. Well, I figure nobody’s reading this recap; the thing that usually happens when Texas plays a terrible team is people check the final score and if it’s way less than expected then people log on to find out WTF happened. Texas beat High Point by 31, so this might turn into a movie review thread at any moment. NOW I WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHY RISE OF THE SKYWALKER WAS DOOMED BEFORE IT BEGAN just kidding I don’t need to get knifed by an incel let’s all pretend the movie was actually great before hastily moving on. No really, I was invested in that one character who seemed way too good with a light saber despite not having any known Jedi capabilities. It sucked when he almost died, I was super sad until he was saved by the old guy cashing the check. Great drama, everybody.

The Good

Matt Coleman

Coleman was never once bothered by High Point. If there was ever a high point for High Point (hey-ooo) Shaka would send Coleman in as the cooler. He was Dalton, but without pleated pants; I like to think when he got up after being elbowed in the face he calmly stated “pain don’t hurt” then told one of the Panthers they were too stupid to have a good time. 10 points, 8 assists, a steal, and a turnover that wasn’t really his fault. Coleman is so damn good this year.

Jericho Sims

If all you watch is Big 12 basketball, you sometimes forget just how bouncy Sims is compared to your average D-I player. Going up against guys like Cliff Thomas and out-jumping by a foot reminds people that his athleticism is pretty absurd. Sims beat up on an inferior team, scoring 12 points and snagging 11 rebounds. Texas even ran some low-post action, though the guards weren’t good at feeding him despite Sims establishing position.

Kamaka Hepa

Hepa played a total of 20 minutes this season and he doubled his minutes in one game. Hepa mostly took advantage of his first start of the season, being active defensively and taking pretty good shots. I think he makes at least one more of his threes if the guards feed him in the shooting pocket rather than hitting him in the knees. He has a craftiness to his game; there were at least two possessions where he snuck below the defense and setup in the paint. His teammates saw one of the two and hit him for an easy layup. He also had three blocks and dished out three assists. If Liddell can’t raise his ceiling this season, Hepa being able to do this for 10-15 minutes a game will be a help. Whether he can replicate this in the Big 12 or if it’s just against terrible teams is a major unanswered question. Still, even for one game it’s a good sight.

They Put a Team Away

Texas got up 21-8 and looked to be on track for a relatively rare easy win, then they let High Point get back into the game. At one point it was 30-27 Texas and I was slowly reaching for the fire alarm, but between the end of the first half and the start of the second half Texas went on a 47-15 run and ended any chance of an upset. High Point is a bad team, but Texas has let bad teams hang around before. The last 15 minutes of competition were uncompetitive because Texas put their boot on somebody’s neck.

It’s Complicated

It’s Just High Point

Beating any team by 30+ is great, but High Point is ranked 341 out of 353 teams on Pomeroy for a reason. Well, multiple reasons; they don’t do much well other than offensive rebounding. So it’s good Texas beat their ass, but it should be expected behavior. There aren’t many lessons from this opponent you can take forward into conference play.

The Bad

Will Baker

If it give you any idea, I checked to see if it’s too late to redshirt Baker. (It is.) He’s lost defensively and he’s 0-for-eternity from three so it’s not like he makes up for it on the other end. It’s probably wise to treat any contributions from Baker as found money from this point on because he’s not in a good way.

Free Throws

7-13 would be great from three, not so much from the free throw line. It’s not like they were taking these in a hostile road environment, it might be quieter in the Drum than it is in the practice facility.

Texas didn’t answer any questions with this game, but they didn’t introduce new ones which is probably a win of its own at this point in the season. The easy games are over; High Point was a 98% win probability, every game the rest of the way currently sits between 11% (at Kansas, duh) and 71% (home against KSU). Texas is currently at less than 50% for 12 of their final 19 games, so everything is about to get very real around here very quickly. Big 12 play starts on the road against arguably the second-best team in the conference, the fighting Dave Blisses of Baylor. The game is on Saturday, tip time is 7 PM CT on ESPN2. Maybe Texas can get lucky and the Longhorns will get a crowd who is busy moping over New York Giants head coach Matt Rhule, who knows.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Nelver.