Game Thoughts: Texas 71, TCU 54

Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

GAME THOUGHTS by Tim Preston

Texas got career nights from two guys (one a senior, the other a freshman) and turned 19 TCU turnovers into 20 points as they avenged the loss in Fort Worth to a TCU team that is going the opposite direction of this Longhorn team.

For a UT team that has struggled putting teams away, it was nice to see the Longhorns extend a lead as the game went on the executed the gameplan well.

Texas needed to win this game and to do it with some style down the stretch is exciting with some more winnable games around the corner.

Offense:

It was clear that the Longhorns were told they needed to start off (and stay) in attack mode against a TCU squad that lacks for help defenders. The Longhorns scored 12 of their first 13 points in the paint and en route to scoring 36 inside the burnt orange section tonight.

It was needed too, as UT’s shots weren’t falling from the perimeter with TCU attacking passing angles and finding shooters well. But it’s the sign of a mature team that they confidently take what the defense gives them and Texas did a great job of staying patient in their perimeter passing in looking to find driving angles as well as attacking in transition.

Both of those successes were emphasized by the scoring outbursts of Roach (22) and Ibeh (17). Roach was a blur in the open floor and in his ability to attack the lane off the early catch before TCU was able to get comfortable in their half court defense. And Ibeh was the beneficiary of Texas’ guards understanding the over aggressive nature of the Horned Frogs’ defense in trying to play rotational help.

It was far from a complete, team effort (and the turnovers were frustrating) but scoring 71 at the pace this game was played at is impressive, especially considering the shooting struggles of Taylor and Felix.

Defense:

Let’s be clear, TCU is not a good offensive team. They miss Kyan Anderson as much as any team in the conference misses player from last season.

Still, the Longhorns showcased the kind of uptempo, aggressive nature of pressing defense that many Texas fans were expecting when the administration welcomed Shaka Smart as the new head coach last April.

Texas pressured the ball well and did their best job of trapping the short corner they’ve perhaps done all season in forcing Texas Christian to execute against length and athleticism on the back court.

Consider that TCU had 19 turnovers and only 13 three point attempts and 22 free throw attempts. But, again, it was the individual defensive play of Ibeh (5 blocks) and Roach (3 steals) that bookmarked a terrific defensive performance. Both players personify the type of physical dominance Smart wants to create as the focal point of a program that attacks teams with relentlessness. Sometimes you hurt a team. Sometimes you let a team hurt themselves. When both can happen, it makes for an enjoyable night.

Special hats off to Ibeh for accumulating only two fouls while playing excellent post defense with his length and patience.

A Look at the Numbers:

TCU shot 33.3% (18-54) overall, 23.1% (3-13) from three, and 68.2% (15-22) from the line.

Texas shot 40% (22-55) overall, 20% (3-15) from three, and 66.6% (24-36) from the line.

Texas had more rebounds (42-34), more assists (13-5) and fewer turnovers (15-19).

Star of the Game: Prince Ibeh

Two things: 1) I couldn’t be happier for Prince (17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 5-6!!! from the foul line); and 2) This isn’t all that surprising.

Prince’s athleticism is on a special level for a guy his size (a legit 6’11”). God just hasn’t blessed that many guys with the type of size/physicality combination that Ibeh possesses.

And when you get the chance to talk with Prince, his cognizance and intelligence is immediately obvious. The only thing he’s been missing is minutes.

We’ve spoken plenty about his impact on this game, but the thing that makes watching college sports so fun is getting the opportunity (game by game) to watch kids become adults.

We love ya, Prince. Fun to watch you shine.

Prince Ibeh. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Prince Ibeh. (Will Gallagher/IT)

The Endgame:

It’s arguably Texas’ most important four game stretch of the season as the next three games (Vanderbilt, @Baylor, Tech), should they come out of them with a winning record, could catapult the Longhorns towards the postseason with confidence and excitement.

UT took care of what they needed to tonight to start that off.

It was a (sometimes closer than preferable) win against the worst team in the conference. But that’s the same worst team in the conference that beat UT 17 short days ago.

Fun to see Roach and Ibeh play so well. And exciting to think what this team is capable of should they ever truly take the next step as a complete team.

 

By: Mike Blackwell

AUSTIN — Texas used major production from a front court player not named Connor Lammert to avenge an earlier loss to TCU and beat the Horned Frogs 71-54 Tuesday night at the Erwin Center.

Prince Ibeh scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added five blocks – about what Cameron Ridley was averaging before he was injured – as the Longhorns moved to 5-3 in the Big 12 and 13-7 overall. TCU fell to 9-11 overall and a dismal 1-7 in league play.

Ibeh had a quick start, hitting three of six shots in the first half, while scoring seven points with four rebounds as Texas built a 37-27 lead.

“I got off to a good early start, and after that, Coach (Shaka) Smart got the ball to me,” said Ibeh, who has struggled mightily from the free throw line, yet made five of six from the line against the Horned Frogs. “With the free throws, in practice they’ve been falling, but in the games they haven’t been going down. But once I saw the first one go in, it was all good.”

Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Kerwin Roach had a big game for Texas as well, going six of nine from the field and 10 of 15 – not a typo – at the free throw line, while scoring 22 points. No one else reached double figures for Texas, which plays Vanderbilt Saturday in Austin.

Ibeh’s big game came at an opportune time – the Longhorns made just three of 15 shots from the three-point stripe, and converted just 40 percent of their shots. One stat that did favor Texas was rebounds: the Longhorns had a 42-34 advantage.

“I thought Prince obviously led the way with our team on both ends of the floor,” Smart said. “He made some great plays. His whole career, he’s wanted more playing time and a bigger role. He’s doing a good job not just producing, but being a leader on our team.”

Chris Washburn and Malique Trent were TCU’s leading scorers with just nine points apiece.