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Shooting For a Title: Texas 81, Lipscomb 66

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NCAA Basketball: NIT Final Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns have now won five straight games against Pomeroy top-100 teams, beating the Lipscomb Bisons 81-66 in a game that was not that close in the final 10 minutes. Texas is now guaranteed to enter next season with the nation’s second-longest winning streak, JUST AS WE ALL PREDICTED, RIGHT. I know I definitely did.

sets fire to all office documents

The Good

Texas Won A Title

I get it, it’s not the NCAA Tournament. We’re all disappointed by Texas missing out on the big dance, nobody more so than the coaches and players on the team. To their credit, they didn’t fold up their tent and slink into the offseason. To quote the late Augie Garrido, adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. What was revealed more than anything over the past three weeks is that this team - coaches, players, support staff - is not lacking in character. Contrast Texas and Alabama; both had coaches who were dealing with job security issues, both were expected to make March Madness, neither did. Alabama let Norfolk State - a team ranked #244 in Pomeroy and who had zero wins against teams in the top 160 of Pomeroy - walk into their house and snatch a win. Texas went out and won the whole fucking thing, and in the process put on some of their best performances of the season. Dismiss the tournament for not being the big one, fine; but that’s not nothing. Four teams get to end the season with a title (NCAA, NIT, CBI, CIT) and Texas is one of them. It’s a nice ending to a disappointing season, and it portends a squad who isn’t looking to transfer en masse.

Courtney Ramey

At halftime, the ESPN interviewer asked Shaka why Garrison Mathews - who rang up 77 points in the previous two NIT games - was a non-factor and Shaka gave a two word response: “Courtney Ramey”. Ramey buried Mathews for the entire game, it wasn’t until 8:15 left in the second half that Mathews hit his first shot. I said on Twitter that Ramey has Jevon Carter potential and it wasn’t a joke; he’s got the length, the quickness, and the mentality to straight erase dudes. Ramey at the head of a Bob Huggins press would be a nightmare. Ramey has already ascended to a level where he doesn’t have to score to impact a game; maybe he’s not Jevon Carter, maybe he’s Dogus Balbay with a three-point stroke. He has been something else this entire tournament.

Dylan Osetkowski

Take a bow, big man. Osetkowski’s final game in burnt orange was one of his best; 19 points on 10 shots, 6-6 from the free throw line, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and zero turnovers is a phenomenal effort from the outgoing Longhorn. He played well inside, he played well outside, he was active on defense, just an all-around great performance.

Kerwin Roach II

Roach nearly had a points/assists double/double notching 16 points and 9 assists on the night. He snagged a couple of steals, played good defense on Mathews while Ramey got a breather, and put the exclamation point on the evening with a 360-degree dunk.

Matt Coleman

This is the loosest I’ve seen Coleman play in a bit; his 7 assists were good but the four steals were the sign to me he was feeling it. Coleman is a guy who seems to feed on good vibes, and the more deflections he gets the more he seems to want to add to his total. I could have used more attempts to penetrate from Coleman (twss) but the gameplan wasn’t quite about the guards getting to the rim tonight. His threes were pretty reasonable choices, and him hitting 33% is about what you’d expect.

Royce Hamm, Jr.

Jericho Sims had a tough night as the Lipscomb bigs were putting on a display of quality low-post moves in the absence of Mathews. Hamm came in for a couple of stretches and really gave good energy on the defensive end; he was one of the only bigs who managed to stymie Lipscomb down low, and he had a monster block in transition that was worthy of replaying. If, uhh, ESPN had posted it. Hamm played like he had something to prove, and he definitely showed up tonight.

Shaka Smart

There are well-founded grumblings about the state of the program, but nobody can argue with what Smart and his staff have done in the NIT. Texas has won five games in a row against Pomeroy top-100 teams for the first time in five years, and they’ve frankly dominated the last three games. Credit to the Texas staff for not only getting the team to give a damn but to execute at maybe the highest level they have all year. The whole team hit the reset button once their bubble was burst and they’ve played an almost effortless form of basketball. Well, a really efforted effortless level of basketball. Is that a word? Sure, let’s assume efforted is a word. Maybe if I efforted to google the word I might know, but it’s late and I’m irrationally lazy about some things.

It’s Complicated

Rebounding

Texas and Lipscomb effectively stalemated on rebounds; both teams grabbed 6 offensive rebounds (about 16% of their opportunities) and both snagged at least 30 defensive rebounds (each right about 83% of their opportunities). Lipscomb won the battle 37-36, but with a team like Lipscomb who prides themselves on their rebounding a stalemate is a win.

Gerald Liddell

His offense is still more about effort than refined ability and he reeks of rawness, but his energy was great and he’s shown something this tournament that hopefully portends something greater next year.

The Bad

It’s Over

There probably haven’t been many times this season when we’ve been sad to see the end. This year has been a roller coaster with more downs than ups, but ending the season on a five-game winning streak and a couple of big wins in Madison Square Garden is one of the better ways to end it. I’m going to miss this team in the same way I’d miss an incredibly charismatic uncle who once in awhile misses your birthday because he got down $2500 at Winstar and had to break into a nearby RV for some valuables but he got caught and would really really appreciate if you don’t hang up because this is his one free call. But man, his jokes are HILARIOUS. The season is done, which is probably welcome news to my liver.

The next game is in November, and now my watch has ended.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Jerom.