It was Wednesday, January 13, 2010 and it was cold as ****. I wasn’t feeling very well but I was there in Hilton Coliseum when the Longhorns, for the first time in school history, were ranked #1 in the country and came away with a road win in Ames.
Since that cold, midweek game when Avery Bradley and Damion James were making big plays for Texas, UT had never come out of Hilton with a win.
Some takeaways from the Longhorns’ 74-70 road victory.
1. For all that Dylan did for Texas as a shooter (and, he did plenty, making 7 threes and scoring a career high 25 points), there’s another stat that sticks out to me…1 turnover. Over the last eight games, Dylan had been averaging just under 4 turnovers per game. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas was 4-4 in those games. Shaka and the Texas program rely heavily on the 6’9 junior forward and put the ball in his hands repeatedly. Dylan’s taken that responsibility and played with terrific poise and purpose throughout this young season, but those turnovers (especially for a player with his work rate on the offensive end) can be a killer. Tonight, Dylan limited his turnovers, trusted his instincts as a shooter and made multiple big shots to deliver the win. Big time game from Dylan.
2. Matt Coleman is a baller. Iowa State, towards the end of the game, had decided that Texas’ perimeter shooting wasn’t going to beat them and played contact man throughout most of the end of regulation and overtime. Coleman saw it, recognized it and went into attack mode accounting for six points off dribble penetration and more made free throws (including four gigantic ones to ice the game at the end…onions!) to finish it off. Add all that to his 9-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio and you have a player that is really coming into his own as the season progresses.
3. Big play Eric Davis Jr was back in action tonight as the teeter-totter swung back in Texas’ favor with the junior swingman. Davis struck a capable balance in this one between lining up quality perimeter shots and understanding when he had the advantage in penetration. It’s been said about him too much already, but if the Longhorns can figure out how to have both Davis and Jones working as perimeter scorers, this UT team is going to be tough to beat.
4. Isn’t it crazy that Bamba can go 10/16/4 and we can all feel like: “Ehh. He played okay”? Cherish these moments with him, because he’s going to represent Texas very well for a long time.
5. Jones’ endurance needs to be ready to go because he may be the most important player for Texas as they go into their road game at Baylor on Saturday. It’s clear that he’s not game conditioned, yet, but nice to see his stroke still looking good.
6. How many Texas fans could share in Iowa State’s misery as Osetkowski was raining threes down on them. Dude’s been a 23% three point shooter this season and just cashed 7-13 from deep. We’ve been there, Cyclone fans. We’ve been there.
7. From a macro standpoint, this win was, potentially, enormous. Texas probably needs to be around 19 wins to feel comfortable about an NCAA tournament berth. Anything better than 19 and we start talking about more favorable seed lines, but 19 should get Texas in. After dropping the game against KU on Friday, this game felt like a must win at what might be the most winnable road game remaining on the schedule, as crazy as that sounds when talking about ISU.
8. Great win. On to the next tough game in Waco next weekend.