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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 60, Texas A&M 50

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Nashville Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

This was an annoying win. Texas was clearly the better team on the floor, but they seemed hellbent on keeping Texas A&M within striking distance; it was like watching a cat play with a trapped mouse for about 30 minutes longer than it should. Just eat the damn thing already. I don’t know what it’s going to take for Texas to put a team away early and keep it put away, they seem uninterested in drilling an opponent by 25. Maybe they have a secret pact to keep Drayton Whiteside off the court by any means necessary, I don’t know. All I know is I should be happier about beating the Aggies and yet here I am. I should probably consider that this is a better outcome than another similarly sloppy game: Georgia last season. Add that to the pile of incremental improvements this season, I guess.

The Good

Team Defense

Texas had a really good shot at keeping the Aggies from cracking 45 points for the game due to their strong man defense and active hands leading to 10 steals. If it weren’t for the team relaxing too much defensively in the last couple of minutes, Texas wins this game by 15. There was no point in this contest where I felt like A&M was going to threaten Texas because every time A&M managed to hit a couple of shots Texas clamped down defensively. The only player to get going was Josh Nebo, his 16 points on 7-10 shooting was due to putting in a lot of work establishing low post position in the second half. Other than him, the Texas guards frustrated A&M’s offensive flow repeatedly; the Aggies are terrible offensively and their lack of perimeter playmakers really showed today. Buzz Williams is playing a 5’8” walk-on at guard, so these issues aren’t very fixable.

(Side note: I’m really interested to see if the A&M fans abandon Williams after a 10/11-win season in the same amounts Texas fans did Shaka Smart. Williams is a good coach, but he may have a tough time winning fans back if this season goes as poorly as it seems like it will.)

Kai Jones

Jones had a cameo appearance in the first half after snagging a pair of fouls in less than two minutes, but he played extended minutes in the second half. His off-ball defense was much better this game; he stayed in his assigned position more often and he didn’t get beat nearly as much as last game. Some of this is due to the Aggies not executing offensively, so it remains to be seen if he’s actually playing with more discipline or the opponent was just really bad. Still, it’s a good sign, and he’s bringing a lot of energy to the court. He’s starting to earn some of Liddell’s minutes.

Phantom Hand Shakes

I talked last time about Matt Coleman getting post-free throw phantom high/low fives from teammates when none of them are around, Courtney Ramey did it today. I will never stop enjoying this.

Buzz Williams Frustration Dance

This might have been the most any Aggie moved all day.

It’s Complicated

Matt Coleman

Coleman had a poor offensive showing today, he turned the ball over way more than normal. His six turnovers today were more than his last four games combined. He was tentative at driving the lane (more on this in a bit) and didn’t find the open man much at all. The reason he’s not in the ‘bad’ section is because his defense was really good. Coleman is so good at defending with his chest, keeping contact with the offensive player with his chest rather than using his hands which limits how many fouls he gets. He’s defending at an all-conference level right now.

The Bad

Guard Aggressiveness

I know A&M was packing the paint, but none of the guards really forced the issue for large chunks of the game. A&M wasn’t playing an unbreakable form of defense, they just hedged really hard in the PnR and kept the weakside defenders with a foot in the paint. Texas could’ve attacked this and gotten to the rim because, well, I’ve seen them do it before. For whatever reason, they were tentative and didn’t really get a foot in the paint until the second half and they still didn’t do it much then. This is one of the main reasons Jericho Sims was quiet today, a lot of his points come from the guard drawing defenders to him then dishing to Sims to flush it home. If the guard never drives, that play doesn’t develop. It wasn’t just Coleman who was failing in this regard; none of them beat the hedge or made the right pass out of it, and even when they refused the screen they would get six feet inside the arc and stop driving because....I don’t know, did the A&M jerseys have hypnotoads on the front? It was frustrating; I mentioned there’s a 5’8” walk-on playing for the Aggies, there are at least three Texas guards who should be able to drive on that dude. This was a 10-point win that should’ve been 20 and this is a primary factor in why.

Texas has six days before Central Michigan comes to town; Keno Davis brings in a veteran Chippewas team that likes to play at a fast tempo with defense being kinda optional. They’ve scored less than 80 points one time this season and they scored 134 against Mississippi Valley State (who is currently 353rd out of 353 teams on KenPom). Texas can slow them down offensively, but they’ll need to score if they want to avoid the upset. Tip time is 1 PM CT on LHN.

Also, the women’s team beat #17 Tennessee on the road today. That’s the first loss of the season for the Lady Volunteers and a good win for the Lady Longhorns.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Mark Knight.