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Shooting From the Corner: Texas 67, West Virginia 57

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NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

There is something to be said for a 3-game win streak in conference play, regardless of who it is against. For a team who is 4-6 in their last ten - two of those 6 being flatly embarrassing - and down four rotation players to continue to battle says something about the players and about the coaching staff. There are assholes on the internet calling for their jobs and fan interest manifesting itself with the Drum looking like a Friday night study session rather than a barn of hate, so it would be understandable for the staff to be using the U12 timeout to update LinkedIn. Instead, they’re rallying. It may only end up netting the team a better NIT seed, but it shows something laudable. This team should not be winning games in the Big 12 with the players they’re missing, and yet they are. The long-term ramifications will play themselves out, it’s OK to enjoy this for what it is for however long it lasts.

The Good

Andrew Jones

I’m going to go out on a limb and say 5-9 from three tends to help the offense. Jones was emerging as an elite shooter before he got sick, and there are individual games where we get reminded of his ability to cook. Jase Febres might have started the season as the best shooter on the team, but Jones is laying his claim to the throne. He’s now shooting just over 40% from three in conference play and he’s driving the ball more intelligently as well. He had three turnovers - who didn’t in this game - but the times he did attempt to finish at the rim he actually got to the rim. For a lot of the season, that ball gets picked before the shot even goes up. If he can continue that against Texas Tech, we may have something here this year.

Courtney Ramey

Going into the season, when I was envisioning how this team would perform offensively one of the linchpins of their success was Ramey. He hasn’t delivered on that promise very often, but he has been crucial to this three-game streak. He is showing the ability to handle the ball enough that it takes a load off of Matt Coleman, he’s being aggressive in the lane which forces the defense to respect driving lanes, and he’s playing intelligent defense on the opposing guards. This is the Ramey I’ve been wanting to see all season.

Brock Cunningham

It’s a seller’s market in Austin for lunch pail references. Cunningham still has one of the weirdest shots I’ve seen - it did not look like that in high school, I swear to god - but he’s playing gamely defense and shagging rebounds like they’re winning lottery tickets stuck in the ‘American Beauty’ plastic bag. West Virginia guards should’ve been able to feed the bigs consistently when they were switched onto him and yet, through the sheer force of will and his family’s credit score he prevented low-post feeds against guys who outweighed him by 60 lb. I will die on Brock Cunningham Mountain. It will be a slow, terrible, humiliating death, and I will yearn for the days when I could’ve walked away with a shred of dignity intact, but I’m just a boy, standing in front of an undersized forward, asking for somebody to recognize that he’s kinda good at some things?

Free Throws

Texas took 20 free throws!

In one game!

There’s film of it and everything!

This Otter Yacht Rock Jam

It’s Complicated

Yea, It’s a 3-Game Win Streak, But..

Before people get too intoxicated with the idea of a NCAA Tournament bid becoming a realistic opportunity, consider who they beat in the last three games:

  • A TCU team who is 2-7 in their last 9 and wasn’t in the last two NIT breacketology projections - yes people do those - I saw. (It wasn’t because either site thought they were making March Madness.)
  • A Kansas State team who might not win 10 games this season.
  • A West Virginia team who has lost 5 of their last 6 and is now 1-7 away from home in the Big 12.

Wins are good, and any win Texas can snag helps, but they’re in mile 10 of a marathon and they lost a shoe four miles ago.

The Bad

Lance Blanks

I grew up on the BMW offense and I’m sure Lance Blanks is a very nice person, but he is not good at his job. At varying points he said things like:

  • He is Shaka’s biggest critic
  • He is Shaka’s biggest defender
  • Shaka has shut his critics up in the last ten days
  • Royce Hamm fouling out is actually good
  • This was the most impressive win of Shaka Smart’s tenure. (A friendly reminder that Lance Blanks is aware of the TCU game Texas won after one of their players was diagnosed with leukemia. He’s even met the player, believe it or not.)
  • Kai Jones is the new Jaxson Hayes
  • There was a question to Joe Lunardi which was approximately 58 seconds long which could be summed up as “can Texas make the tournament?”

Whoever is telling Lance Blanks to talk more: please stop it. I beg of you. You’re killing one of my heroes in two-hour increments.

The next stop - and biggest remaining regular season test - is a Saturday trip to Lubbock to face a Texas Tech squad who will test this short bench like they haven’t been tested in awhile. The Red Raiders actually have the most efficient offense in the Big 12 during conference play due in no small part to shooting nearly 40% from three. Texas will have to figure out how to slow down Jahmi’us Ramsey without giving up a ton of open looks to Davide Moretti. If they can keep those two in check and limit the turnovers on offense, maybe this win streak will start to mean something. Tip time is 11 AM on ESPN.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Andromedha.