PITTSBURGH — Here are my Five Quick Thoughts following Butler’s 56-48 second round win over the Texas Longhorns in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday.
1. After 17 seasons, that should do it for Texas HC Rick Barnes. Late season slump after late season slump followed by epic March Madness collapses means there might need to be new blood in the basketball program. Barnes brought great success to Austin, but it’s time. After winning three Big 12 regular season championships, a handful of Sweet 16 and Elite 8 appearances, and one moment at the Final 4, it’s time. After four Big 12 Coach of the Year awards and giving the Texas faithful guys like TJ Ford, Kevin Durant, and Lamarcus Aldridge, it’s time. Barnes finished the last seven seasons without a Sweet 16, and 13 years without defeating a higher-seeded team. As Dandy Don Meredith used to sing at the conclusion of ABC’s Monday Night Football, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Thank you, coach Barnes.
2. Forward Jonathan Holmes left it all on the floor. The senior from San Antonio gave it his all on Thursday in his last performance in a Longhorns uniform. He had 15 of UT’s 31 points early in the 2nd half including a few big 3-pointers to keep his squad close. He didn’t have the senior campaign he had hoped for, but Holmes played with heart and never wavered in his desire to bring Texas to the forefront. Thank you, Jonathan.
3. Turnovers are the ultimate killer. If there’s one problem you can pinpoint that contributed to the decline of Texas Men’s basketball in 2014-15, it’s turnovers. Isaiah Taylor was the really the team’s only legitimate ball-handler. If he was off, like in the 1st half, then the team struggled immensely. Eight 1st half turnovers were the undoing, but the manner in which was worse. Poorly executed inbounds play, two travels, and two double dribbles. The type of double dribbling that has taken over basketball in the last 20 years, that officials have basically allowed. Taylor was nabbed for two of them today, both at critical spots.
4. Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor had to have a big game for the Longhorns to be successful. After a disaster of a 1st half, Taylor made up for it in the following intermission. He had 10 of UT’s 12 points in a critical span that saw Texas close the gap after grabbing an early 2nd half advantage. His acrobatic layups were fun to watch and kept the Horns close, including his finish at the rim with 3:22 remaining and a Bulldogs’ 44-41 lead.
5. The Horns were in the Top 10 at Christmas and unranked by Valentine’s Day. Texas season ends unceremoniously at 20-14. This is Texas Basketball. Texas was down two at halftime, held Butler to 4-of-18 shooting during a vital stretch of the game, and found itself down seven. This is Texas Basketball.
· UT made its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 17 years and 32nd all-time appearance in the Big Dance.
· The Longhorns fell to 35-35 (.500) all-time in their 32 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Texas has posted a 19-16 mark under Rick Barnes in NCAA tourney play.
· Since the NCAA expanded the tourney field to 64 teams in 1985, the Horns are 17-7 in their opening game in the NCAA Tournament.
· The Longhorns were held to a season low in points (48, previous: 49 vs. Oklahoma on Jan. 5).
· Texas held Butler to 33.3% FG shooting (16-of-48), including a 23.8% (5-of-21) in the second half. The Horns limited 22 of their 34 opponents this year to under 40% FG shooting (17-5 record in those games).
· UT blocked five shots against Butler and finished the year with a school single-season record total of 265 blocks in 34 games (previous mark was 206 blocks in 2013-14). Texas should finish the year leading the nation in blocks per game (7.79 bpg).
· Texas posted a +13 (41-28) rebound margin. UT posted a double-digit rebound advantage in 17 of its 34 games this year.
· Reached double figures in scoring (team-high 15 points) for the 17th time this season and 58th time in his career (127 games, 108 games started)
· Finished his UT career ranked 24th on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,166 points), ninth in career rebounds (749) and 11th in career blocked shots (113)
· Reached double figures in rebounds (10) for the third time this year and sixth time in his career (103 games)
· Reached double figures in scoring (14 points) for the 17th time this season (24 games) and 44th time in his career (59 games)
· Reached double figures in rebounds (10) for the seventh time this year (34 games)