AUSTIN — Texas kept the Horned Frogs from ever really getting any offensive rhythm in beating TCU in Austin for its second straight win as they attempt to distance themselves from the 4-game losing streak that put them squarely behind the eight ball in conference play.
Texas still hasn’t really put together a complete game this entire season, so it wasn’t some sort of miraculous performance, but it’s nice to see the Horns win a game they should, 66-43, at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday.
TCU went against their normal defense in coming out playing, largely, a 2-3 zone. Not surprisingly, considering the Longhorns had been prepping for man since Sunday, Texas took a little while to adjust to the Horned Frogs’ defensive wrinkle.
Then Yancy hit two threes. And Felix hit three of them. And, before TCU knew what had hit them, Texas was up 29-13 and the Horned Frogs would never come closer than seven points even as Texas hit a drought in the second half over a six minute stretch.
What was best about the Texas offense in this one was that they found ways to use multiple looks in how they attacked TCU. That balance allowed the Longhorns to stay fresh and pull TCU around and keep the Horned Frogs from keying in on a specific area of the Longhorn offense.
Beyond that, Texas got some excellent individual performances as all of Ridley, Felix and Yancy had breakout performances in the absence of Holmes and with Taylor and Turner having pedestrian nights, production wise.
Playing offensively against a zone is about finding open spots and exploiting them, whether that’s as shooters, penetrators or in a facilitating role off of passes.
Texas did that very well in this game.
TCU’s makeup is, really, a lot like Texas’. They have multiple, quality bigs. Their best player is a dynamic point guard that is dangerous in the open court. They can struggle from deep when they don’t create open shots.
The problem for the Horned Frogs is that, while the makeup is similar, the talent level is not.
Texas shut down TCU with an aggressive, matchup zone in the half court. It limited TCU’s ability to find driving angles in the high paint by giving up the corner three because they knew Texas Christian was an unwilling corner three shooting team.
Another big spot was how well Texas kept Anderson from getting going as a scorer. If a fan had only watched Anderson in his contests against the Longhorns, it would be easy to think of him as a passive, tentative offensive player…which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Texas has played the athletic point guard brilliantly by pressuring him in the full court to prevent him from creating momentum off the dribble in space.
Without their star player creating points, they had nothing to hurt the Longhorns.
A Look at the Numbers:
The Horned Frogs shot 28.8% (15-52) overall, 31.3% (5-16) from three, and 50% (8-16) from the line.
Texas shot 51.4% (19-37) overall, 41.2% (7-17) from three, and 67.7% (21-31) from the line.
The Longhorns easily won the battle of the boards (36-27) and assists (14-9) while TCU had fewer turnovers (9-12).
Star of the Game: Cameron Ridley
Felix came out on fire. Yancy’s shooting set the tone against TCU’s zone defense. But it was Cam’s ability to hurt TCU on seals in the post that made him unstoppable in the paint. Ridley (15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) played with great pace off the catch and as a rebounder in space.
When he plays with that kind of tempo and purpose early in the clock, he’s very difficult to limit at this level.
When Texas can get scoring from three players, like they did tonight from Yancy, Felix and Ridley, they’re hard to beat.
Shockingly, considering how deep Texas is, they haven’t been able to get that type of production across their lineup this season.
Tonight they did.
It started with the defense, but their offense against the zone was good, too. If Texas has found one more shooter in Yancy, that will be something that creates positive looks moving forward.
Nice game for the Longhorns with a chance to get back to .500 in the conference against Tech on Saturday evening.