Among the things I have done this evening to avoid writing this recap: break down boxes for recycling, watch some of the Baylor/Oklahoma State game, leaf through a flyer for new flowers to plant this spring, cook a pizza, eat a pizza, make a drink, feed the dog, wash the dog’s bowl, clean the liner under his bowls. I don’t know much, but I do know this Texas team is making me a better dog owner. I might take a break halfway through this recap just to play with him because unlike Texas Longhorns basketball, he doesn’t build me up just to disappoint me when it matters.
Life as a Texas fan is only enjoying the 12-0 runs about 60% as much as you should because you're bracing yourself for the other team to go on a 18-4 run.— (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ 353 (@Bitterwhiteguy) February 8, 2020
That is Texas basketball in a nutshell. I can watch Texas go up 22-8 and think it’s maybe the worst thing that can happen because I have Texas With A Lead PTSD. TWALPTSD is a serious issue that has affected thousands of Texans for years, and I’m considering bringing it to Jim Adler’s attention. If anyone can get us cash for our collective pain, it’s the Texas Hammer.
I have issues with the plays called at the end of the game (more on that in a bit, believe me) but if there is one player who left it all out on the floor today, it’s Coleman. He played 39 minutes and was able to get into the paint repeatedly on offense. There was a point in the second half where it seemed like Coleman was going to singlehandedly drag Texas’ decomposing corpse across the finish line; his 17 points only scratches the surface of what he did. He was yet again the most confident ballhandler in burnt orange, he played excellent defense, and only one player on the team had more offensive rebounds than him. Coleman busted his ass today.
Speaking of offensive rebounds, Texas had 12 of them. They grabbed 31% of their offensive rebounding chances which is well above their average on the season, and it’s even more remarkable given how little time Sims spent on the floor. Texas finally won the rebounding battle and it’s in a loss, which seems like an incredibly on-brand Texas Longhorns basketball thing.
Royce Hamm Jr.
Hamm was pressed into extended duty due to Sims fouls and other injuries (more on that later as well) and he acquitted himself pretty well. He didn’t take any dumb shot, he grabbed 7 rebounds - which is as many as Matt Coleman, but that says more about Coleman’s day than Hamm’s - and had a great block that was definitely not a goaltend and since we’re past the window for reviews I will not refer to it as a goaltend any more. This was a good matchup for Hamm, none of Tech’s bigs are the size of Udoka Azubuike so he could use his low base to play good defense and box out well.
Jones’ first half was wonderful; he played with a wonderful confidence on both ends of the floor, hitting big shots, blocking shots, and going for steals. He is the primary reason Texas built a 16-point lead. Having said that, here are his second-half stats: 1-6, 0-3 from three, two rebounds, two turnovers, and a -12 +/-. He had a transition opportunity which ended up as a turnover when he dribbled into a 5-on-1 clusterfuck in the paint, his defense devolved, and he just wasn’t the same guy.
Hepa probably played more minutes than the team planned on account of the injuries, so some of his issues are fatigue-related as he hasn’t practiced much since the injury. He had a big three, made a couple of free throws, and was trying defensively. The issue is that Tech started taking advantage of his switching onto guards and they took him to the hole a number of times in the second half. Plays where Kai Jones’ length would’ve been an effective deterrent suddenly were relatively makeable shots. It’s good Hepa is back, but it had some negative consequences.
The Kai Jones injury was unfortunate but appeared to be an ankle turn that he can come back from soon; the real killer was Jase Febres. The official word is that he hyperextended his knee, but the replays made it pretty clear that it went the wrong direction when he landed. I hope Febres is OK, but that injury screamed “season over” to me. It sucks because I was poised to write about how well I thought Febres played defensively; he was doing a solid job limiting Jahmi’us Ramsey in the first half, and his help defense led to a couple of salty blocks. If Febres is out for an extended amount of time, the rest of Texas’ season just got that much more difficult.
Sims today - and I hope this term isn’t too technical for everybody - sucked balls. His foul trouble was partly a result of some ticky-tack foul calls, but he also wasn’t playing like himself. It’s impressive Texas was able to build such a big lead with maybe their best player doing his best impression of The Invisible Man. This is a game Sims should’ve shown out in, at least theoretically. I can understand passing to him in the low post would be difficult given the way Tech defends, but it seems like they should’ve been able to get to him on the PnR. Sims laid an egg today, and it probably cost Texas the game.
Last-Minute Play Calling
In a vacuum, I do not have a problem with putting the ball in Coleman’s hands at the end of the game. He’s been the best Texas player and his assist rate on the season says if he can’t make it happen at the rim he can probably find the guy who will. However, it was clear to me, noted basketball idiot, that Coleman was gassed. He played his ass off on both ends of the floor and he didn’t have that last gear any more, yet Texas played the same ISO ball possession three times in a row. It’s fair to note that the play worked a number of times in the game, Coleman was either getting a good shot or getting the ball to somebody who was open, but those were before his tank was empty. Three ISO possessions, three blocked shots. Tech was prepared; on two of them they stayed home on the perimeter shooters so there was no kick-out (on the third Coleman had committed before he could see Andrew Jones had slid to an open position) and at that point with no Kai Jones or Jericho Sims there was no reason to worry about a lob to the big. That’s an easy call for the help defender to make at that point. I don’t know why Shaka Smart and staff felt that was the best play call, maybe they didn’t think anything else was being executed well enough to call. It didn’t work, and a winnable game slipped through their fingers as a result.
There were two standards of contact in this game, and it favored the Red Raiders. Both team were attacking the paint and drawing contact, but one team shot 22 free throws and the other shot 8. It is frustrating in the extreme to watch Texas finally be persistently aggressive and get to the rim and watch the refs swallow their whistles. Texas tried to draw contact, the refs did not cooperate.
Texas is now 4-6 in conference play and they get the joy of #1 Baylor coming into Austin on Monday. There might be as many as 3 starters in street clothes for that game, which is just awesome. Not that I expected a win in this game any way, but Febres, Jones, and Liddell all likely being out doesn’t exactly help things. Tip time is 8 PM CT on ESPN.
BWG’s writing tunes provided by The Transcend Sessions.