Well that sucked.
Despite being down both of their seniors - Dylan Osetkowski (illness) & Kerwin Roach II (dumbass) - Texas beat up on Baylor for about 25 minutes straight. The lead was as large as 19 in the second half at 55-36 when Jase Febres hit a three not long after Courtney Ramey and Mario Kegler got offsetting technical fouls, but from that point on Baylor slowly crept their way back into the game. The lead wasn’t down to single digits until 7 minutes left and it wasn’t until the 1:06 mark that Baylor took the lead, and even at that point Texas showed enough fight to force overtime. Texas had a one-point lead with 9 seconds left, but a Jaxson Hayes turnover and a (incredibly awful) foul on Jase Febres led to free throws that Baylor converted and were ultimately the winning margin. It was basically the exact opposite of the Oklahoma game, except Texas lost that one too.
Once again this team gets so close to clinching their spot in the NCAA Tournament and once again they fail to seal the deal. It’s like Shaka Smart is practicing basketball edging (don’t look it up) but I’m not sure he’s going to give us full release. I have basketball blue balls. I guess you don’t have to look it up after all.
48 hours ago he was in concussion protocol, 12 hours ago he was looking at a handful of minutes, and an hour before the game he found out he was probably starting. He went 3-3 from three, grabbed five rebounds, and added a pair of blocks in what was mostly a solid effort in 39(!) minutes. A year of off-season strength will help him grab more rebounds, but you got to see some of why he was a big priority for Shaka...and, well, Bill Self picked Hepa for the U18 team this summer....and, well, Mark Few went after him pretty hard as well. The Alaskan Assassin is starting to show out.
Febres must love Waco because he went nuts for a second consecutive trip. 23 points on 7-14 from three as well as a step-back two that gave Texas their 83-80 lead with 21 seconds left in OT, Febres was feeling it. His defense was solid, though he helped off his guy a bit too much from time to time. (This will be a recurring theme in my recap.) Febres has taken ownership of his newfound starting role.
His first half was better than his second half - I wonder if Baylor starts fighting if he and Kegler never get into it, but I might as well start throwing rocks in the ocean for all the good it will do in lessening the chip on Ramey’s shoulder - but you see the way he can hit his teammates for open looks and convert his own. Ramey finished with a 17/10 scoring/assist double/double and that’s despite not contributing much after halftime. He’s already good and he’s going to be really, really good down the road.
Baylor can’t guard Texas’ guards in man-to-man, we’ve got 85 minutes of gameplay to back that up. Baylor is having to play more man defense due to their lineup issues and every time they went to that defense Texas got in the paint at will. The PnR looks salty for Texas the last few games, they’re turning hard on the screen and getting downhill quickly.
Baylor attacks the boards like few teams in the country and Texas was beating them at their own game in the first half. No small part of the Texas lead was built off of limiting second-chance opportunities for their opponent. In the second half - especially the last 12-13 minutes of the second half - Baylor made it a war down low. If you didn’t have both hands on the ball and squeezed like you wanted to pop the basketball, it was getting knocked loose. The refs weren’t calling much of anything during rebounds and Baylor took advantage of the physicality to dominate the boards. To end up with 19 offensive rebounds is impressive enough, but the fact Baylor rebounded literally half of their misses after not getting many in the first half speaks to just how much they prioritized rebounds down the stretch.
Long was able to beat Mason off the dribble pretty reliably, I’m sure he was happy to be facing another shortish guard with limited athleticism. He played well when Baylor played man but is a non-factor against the zone. He also played so far off his man in help defense that there were times it looked like he was guarding somebody else entirely. I know Mason wasn’t having a great night, but you can’t give him 12 feet of cushion. His defense was rough and that foul on the Mason three at the end of the first half was brutal.
Hey, have you heard this before? Texas had trouble attacking the zone. It irks me that Scott Drew is probably going to win Big 12 Coach of the Year when he continues to play man against teams like Texas. I know you have lineup problems, but have you seen the Texas offense against the zone? Were you holding it back to build drama? Texas tried to make some adjustments against the zone with things like flashing Hepa to the high post and mixing up their screens to get some space in the middle, and I guess it’s hard to complain too much when Texas scored 43 points in the second half and overtime, so maybe this isn’t what I’m irked by so much. Oh wait, I know what it is.
I’m sure there’s some statistical validity to bleeding clock when you’re up by 14 points with eight minutes and change left in the game, but at a certain point you have to start running your offense at a reasonable tempo. You aren’t Virginia who excels playing in the tempo of a lethargic snail, get into the offense already. You know what’s more effective than slicing 15 seconds off the clock in each possession? Getting open shots in a game where you’re shooting 50+%.
Somebody Slapped the Floor Again
Febres hits a 3. Texas back up 78-75.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) February 28, 2019
OH NO THE FLOOR SLAP!!!
Texas has not won a game where either Brian or I have seen a floor slap. Stop angering the basketball gods, Longhorns. You don’t have the margin for error.
Texas has - stop me if you’ve heard this before - a chance to salt away their tournament spot on Saturday as the Iowa State Cyclones come to Austin. The Cyclones have pretty much given away their shot at sharing the Big 12 title thanks to a mini-slump where they’ve lost 3 of the last 5 including a pair of games against TCU. Texas could use the mojo of making it 4 losses in 6 games for the Cyclones. Tip time is 1 PM CT on ESPN2.
Programming note: There probably won’t be a recap for the Iowa State game as I’ll be dog sledding in Montana. No, seriously. There may or may not be a recap for the Texas Tech game depending on when we get back on Monday.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by Invaderz.