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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 69, Oklahoma State 57

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NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

There was one game left on the regular season slate where a Longhorns loss would present the NCAA Tournament selection committee as a reason to send Texas to the NIT, and it was the game against Oklahoma State today. It was also a chance to see if Texas had learned its lesson from earlier in the year where they thought they could roll the ball onto the court against the Cowboys and win. Texas answered both questions positively, beating the Cowboys 69-57 in a game where the Longhorns took the lead for the final time with 8 minutes left in the first half and never again let the Cowboys even things up. Sometimes simply taking care of business is enough, and Texas did enough.

The Good

Dylan Osetkowski

Osetkowski wasn’t his usual rebounding self, snagging only four rebounds, but he more than made up for it by going 3-3 from three and turning the ball over exactly zero times. In fact, Osetkowski missed exactly zero shots today. He was 2-2 from two, 3-3 from three, and 1-1 from the free throw line. Combine those shooting numbers with zero turnovers and he basically broke the O-rating stat on Pomeroy, registering a 254. As a point of reference anything over 100 is usually solid.

Elijah Mitrou-Long

There’s always a point early in the game where Texas sends Mitrou-Long in to see if they’re going to get 85% Eli or Full Eli, and depending on how he plays they know if he’ll get three minutes or 18. 85% Eli showed up today, providing good energy off the bench and being a net-positive for the team which is why he ended up with 24 minutes. His three-point shot selection was reasonable, his passes were under control, and for the 87th game in a row he sold a charge. Good showing from the junior.

Free Throw Shooting

This is a record I don’t mind playing over and over again: free throw shooting was a major factor in keeping the Cowboys at bay. Texas shot 16-18 from the line (89%), Oklahoma State shot 9-18 from the line (50%). Even more heartening is that seven different Longhorns shot free throws so they weren’t dependent on a transcendent night from any one player. Texas is shooting 75.3% from the line in conference play, 0.6% behind first place Iowa State.

Royce Hamm, Jr

I’m not entirely sure why Jericho Sims only got four minutes today; his performance had issues but he also was the victim of being the end result of bad choices made by his teammates. To wit: that pocket pass from Roach in the second half was at his shins, but the turnover is on Sims’ ledger. Still, Hamm played well in his 10 minutes; credit to him for staying ready when it’s pretty clear he’s not going to play every game.

Three-Point Defense*

Guys not named Thomas Dziagwa were 1-12 from three today. Texas did a good job contesting their threes; keeping a rainmaker like Lindy Waters to an 0-2 performance is a solid effort.

It’s Complicated

Kerwin Roach II

This section might as well be sponsored by Snoop. He was awful in the first 10 minutes of the game; his drives were poor, his defense was suspect, and his passing didn’t do much to help the cause. The last half of the first half was good though because Roach is genetically programmed to flip a switch at some point in the game and go on a tear. If there was a way to duct tape that switch to the ‘on’ position, he’d be an all-conference player. Instead we’re left with sequences like the one in the second half where he tried to cut under a screen, leaving Dziagwa open for a three (SPOILER ALERT: HE MADE IT) then hit Sims with that shitty pocket pass I mentioned earlier. Toss that in a bowl, mix it with 8-10 minutes of explosive drives to the basket and add in a couple or steals, and you have Roach Souffle. That sounds worse than it did in my head; maybe call it Snoop Snot? No? Kerwin Cake? Sure, Kerwin Cake.

Courtney Ramey

Ramey didn’t have a great day; he didn’t have a terrible day, but his shot wasn’t falling and he didn’t register a single assist so his defense was the only thing he really gave the team in terms of measurable contributions. The reason he’s not in ‘the bad’ category is that he played hard; people wondered about his benching against Kansas State, and the short answer is because he let his emotions get the better of him and started acting out to his teammates and the coaching staff. When an ultra-competitive athlete gets benched for something like that, he has a choice: he can let the situation fester and resent his coaches/teammates, or he can stay bought in and learn from it. Ramey chose the latter when some Longhorns of the past coughSheldonMcCllelancough chose the former. I’m glad to see that the staff still started Ramey and that Ramey still put in good effort; it’s a sign that both sides still want to work together.

The Bad

*Except on Thomas Dziagwa

It’s one thing if Dziagwa is hitting contested threes - and there were a couple of those - but the majority of his threes came from his curling off screens which Texas players either weren’t fighting through hard enough, weren’t anticipating early enough, or were taking a poor angle on. Multiple defenders were also caught helping too far off Dziagwa and closed late on his shot; it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the game that Texas was reliably sticking to Dziagwa even when he was across the court. It’s not a coincidence that Dziagwa only shot one three (which he missed) in the final 8 minutes of the game. Some days the other team hits tough threes and you tip your hat, but today was not one of those days.

Assists

Texas only had eight assists on the day, and I’m a bit ambivalent on how big a deal this is. On one hand, it’s a lower percentage of assists (35%) on made shots than in some of the other wins. On the other hand, if teams are focusing on removing the lob option on the PnR and Texas guards are simply getting to the rim and finishing instead then assist numbers will naturally fall some. Aggregate number of assists isn’t something I’m keeping an eye on so much as the percentage of made shots; I’m fine with guards penetrating and finishing at the rim, but there’s a fine line between that and counterproductive hero ball. So far it feels like the former, but it’s worth monitoring.

Texas is 7-6 in conference and gets a week off to rest up before the final five-game run. Their next Game is at Oklahoma against a Sooners squad who beat TCU earlier today to snap a five-game skid. The Sooners are 4-9 in conference play and every loss pushes them further on the wrong side of the bubble, so they will be motivated to defend their home court. Tip time is 11 AM CT on ESPNU.

In women’s news: the Lady Longhorns are #15 in the country, 20-5, and on a two-game win streak. They face Kansas State tomorrow in Austin, tip time is 4 PM CT on FSN.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Zach Moore.