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Shooting From the Corner: LSU 69, Texas 67

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LSU v Texas Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Texas was down by as much as 16 early in the second half, and given where the team is it would be entirely understandable if they folded up the tent for the day. Instead, they fought back courtesy a 22-4 run, took the lead late in the second half, and had a chance to put LSU under some real pressure. Unfortunately, LSU rolled out a 1-3-1 zone which flustered Texas’ guards and killed Texas’ ability to respond to a few timely LSU buckets. The Moral Victory Brigade notched another victory today, but alas when they win it usually means the team lost. This team seems to excel at moral victories more than actual victories. I wish I had something funny to say here, but I think I’m as tired and resigned to fate as everyone else at this point. Writing about losses is getting far easier than it would be if I were a Kentucky or Kansas fan.

The Good

Jericho Sims

It’s time to seriously consider that Sims is the best player on Texas right now. Matt Coleman is dealing with defenses knowing he’s the only reliable offensive initiator, and they’re scheming him into difficult situations keep him away from the rim. If he’s struggling, Sims is doing everything he can given the guards aren’t able to reliably feed him. When was the last time Texas had a low post threat who every time he got the ball, you expected him to score? Cameron Ridley’s senior season, maybe? Tristan Thompson? Sims is operating at an elite offensive level, and he’s playing good defense against other bigs as well as when he’s switched onto guards. I don’t know how well his game will translate to the next level if he can’t hit a reliable three, but you have to think NBA scouts are noticing him again as a rim-runner/defender. He put up a 14/7 and would have scored 20 if guards fed him the ball more.

Donovan Williams

We got to see glimpses of why Stretch was getting offers from half the Big 12; he’s a long, athletic 6’6” wing who plays more like a guard. His ability to intercept passes and aggressive patrolling of passing lanes shows some of the defensive potential and his athleticism on the offensive end means he can get to the rim better than a lot of guys his size. He brought good energy to the game today and he’s probably earned a few more minutes the rest of the season.

Royce Hamm

I get on Hamm for his significant limitations, but with the depleted bench he came into the game and gave good effort without fouling a ton. Any time Hamm can play with that level of energy and only pick up two fouls in 23 minutes, that’s helpful.

It’s Complicated

Andrew Jones

When he’s hot, Andrew Jones probably gets hotter on offense than anybody on the team. He was hunting his shot today and those shots were largely falling; 20 points on 14 shots is a number most any NCAA coach would love to have. So why is he in this category? Two reasons:

  1. A lot of his scoring came on iso ball, not in the flow of the offense. Yes, the shots went in, but we’ve seen the games where they don’t and this is not a team who can afford wasted possessions that are guys trying to get theirs at the expense of the system. He had three turnovers and his handle in traffic is still susceptible to getting picked.
  2. His defense was terrible. He sagged too far off some guys and let others blow past him on the way to the rim. It’s almost as if some possessions he feels like he’s the only guy playing zone.

The Diamond Press

It worked more often than not today, and Paul Sunderland & Fran Fraschilla harped on why Texas doesn’t go to this more often. The reason is because they suck at it; last time I checked in Synergy they were ranked in the bottom 25% nationally in press defense. If Texas was good at it, they’d do it more. Hey, at least Fran didn’t spend 40 minutes talking about Texas being soft and Sunderland didn’t refer to this as “the preseason” so....progress?

The Bad

Courtney Ramey

Ramey made one shot, had one assist, and fouled out. More than that, he appeared out of sync with Febres on at least two possessions that turned into turnovers. That’s not what Texas needs from a guy playing 30 minutes.

Offense against the 1-3-1

Texas was on a roll, generating offense while stuffing LSU on defense. LSU started playing a 1-3-1 and Texas stopped scoring; not enough of the guards attack the zone and the bigs weren’t getting into positions to receive the ball and redirect it to the open guy. Credit to LSU, but Texas should have been better against this. Most of this staff has played against Baylor enough to know the weaknesses of the 1-3-1. I would not be surprised to see somebody else throw this out against Texas later this season.

Defensive Rebounding

LSU grabbed nearly 52% of their offensive rebounding opportunities, which is an insane number. But hey, it’s better than the 56% West Virginia grabbed, so....progress? This is one of the areas that is killing Texas right now. Speaking of..

Free Throws

Texas shot 6 free throws, LSU made 16. Ball game. This is the worst free throw rate Texas has recorded since at least 1997 and I’ve never seen anything like it. A decade from now Dustin McComas is going to write a book about this season and drop a bomb where we find out Shaka has been paying refs not to call fouls for Texas so he could slide out of town with $10.5m and it not look like he was throwing games.

Texas gets back into conference play on Wednesday at TCU, tip 7 PM CT on everyone’s favorite app ESPN+. That means we can all cancel our subscription at ~9:10 PM CT.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Mario Ocho.