Basketball

Game Thoughts: Texas 74, OSU 69

Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Kerwin Roach. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Overall Game Thoughts by: Tim Preston

For 25 minutes, it was a terrific example of how the Longhorns hope to execute in their current state. They were aggressive on defense, leading to OSU turnovers and great movement in space for a Longhorn team that has proven to be at its best when they can get into the open floor.

It led to solid three point shooting, trips to the free throw line and some good ball screen defense.

Then the bottom fell out. Well, almost, at least.

More on that later.

For now, Texas comes out of their week long homestand 2-0 to improve to 3-2 in the conference where they sit only a game back of first place. We’ll focus on that for a second.

Offense:

Pre-14:39 in the second half, Texas was executing how Smart wants. The ball movement was solid, especially early in the clock where the Longhorns were able to set up the Cowboys with low spacing against the zone and attack the offensive glass from flat positions, which was effective against an OSU team that is limited in the paint.

It worked well, and Texas ran out to their big lead even with all of Lammert, Ibeh and Taylor getting into some early foul trouble.

Post-14:39 in the second half, Texas played with zero poise, zero purpose and zero understanding of how to milk the shot clock against a zone. Consider this, leading by 23, the Longhorns shot 14 three pointers over the final 14 minutes of the game. They made one.

Hindsight is 20/20 and, had Texas hit three or four of those 14 as is their usual percentage, the game never gets close. But they didn’t hit three or four. They hit one. And, what’s worse, OSU didn’t have to do anything special on defense other than defend an area and watch Texas miss threes with a spread floor, which then allowed OSU to get going in transition.

Highlighted inside all of that mess were the frustrating struggles of Felix and Lammert. Connor did some nice things in the paint tonight, but their combined 1-13 from deep was a killer for a Longhorn team that expects its senior leaders to step up and make baskets to seal wins. Made worse is that the poor shooting isn’t some one-miss wonder. Since Kansas State, Lammert is 6-24 from three. Felix is worse at 3-22.

Things get a touch harder this next week while UT travels to West Virginia and Kansas. Suffice to say, shooting outings from Connor and Javan similar to this one and won’t have to worry about hanging on to close leads at the end of regulation against either of those squads.

Defense:

Until Texas’ offense let it down, the Longhorns were fantastic on the defensive side of the floor. Holland and Roach did a terrific job of making Evans one dimensional and frustrating his scoring by contesting well. The rebounding wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t enough to put Texas in any danger of the Cowboys getting a bunch of second chance buckets.

What was most satisfying about this side of the court was the continued emergence of Texas’ freshman class as defenders. Mack has come a long ways since the loss at Tech. So has Davis. They are showing better. They are playing with extension better. They are reading the offense more quickly. They’re the future (immediate?), and it’s great that they’re getting the kind of minutes they are so that they might develop.

Eric Davis. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Eric Davis. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Really, everyone played well until Texas’ lack of poise on the offensive end led to open shots in space for OSU when the Longhorns were sent scrambling because of poor shot selection.

OSU got hot at the right time, but this game was a step in the right direction, defensively.

A Look at the Numbers:

OSU shot 37.5% (24-64) overall, 33.3% (6-18) from three, and 71.4% (15-21) from the line.

Texas shot 40% (22-55) overall, 22.6% (7-31) from three, and 71.9% (23-32) from the line.

Oklahoma State had more rebounds (41-39), more assists (13-8) and more turnovers (10-8).

Star of the Game: Kerwin Roach Jr.

Davis and Taylor were both solid, but the minutes Roach gave Texas when Taylor went to the bench with foul trouble were the difference in the game. Roach’s athleticism and length make him so dangerous on the defensive end that it’s tough to deal with some of his offensive inefficiencies because you want a guy with his length and quickness on the floor, especially against this OSU team that has some playmakers at guard.

But not only did Roach play great defense on Evans and others, but he also limited his mistakes with the ball and got to the foul line off his aggressiveness.

Texas doesn’t need for him to be special, but more games where he plays with control and awareness will help Texas when Taylor has issues on the floor.

Nice game from Kerwin (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist and only 1 turnover in 21 minutes).

The Endgame:

It would have been nice to beat both Tech and TCU. Those were winnable games (as both teams’ 1-4 records in conference suggest), but the Longhorns couldn’t finish those games off.

Still, the Longhorns needed to be above .500 after these first five games and that’s where they are.

Unless something shocking happens, Texas will lose both of their road games against top 10 teams this week, but the Longhorns were able to build some confidence this week and there’s no doubt that if they can shoot well from outside that the chance is there for the Longhorns to put the fear of God in their opponents.

Will that be enough to get the wins they need moving forward? Ehh. But it was tonight, even if just barely.

Big week ahead to see just how well Shaka’s positive coaching style shows in two of the toughest road environments in the country.

Isaiah Taylor. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Isaiah Taylor. (Will Gallagher/IT)

By: Mike Blackwell

AUSTIN — Texas built a 23-point second-half lead, then desperately held on late to escape the Erwin Center with a 74-69 win Saturday night.

The Longhorns led 51-28 with 14:54 remaining, blinked, and with 2:45 left OSU’s Anthony Allen made a layup to cut the lead to 65-62. Fortunately for Texas, Isaiah Taylor, Eric Davis and Javan Felix made clutch free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.

Texas moves to 3-2 in league play with the win, and 11-6 overall. The Cowboys fall to 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns now hit the road for a big game at West Virginia on Wednesday.

“I told our guys that great teams step on the gas when they get a big lead like that,” said Texas coach Shaka Smart. “With games like that, you want to learn from them, and the best teams learn, win or lose. That’s certainly what we need to do.”

One thing the Longhorns need to learn from Saturday night is simple: make your free throws. Texas was just 14 of 22 at the line in the second half when things got dicey.

Taylor finished the game with 18 points, including four free throws in the final 13 seconds. Eric Davis scored 12 points, and Kerwin Roach added 11 for the Longhorns.

Leyton Hammonds paced the Cowboys’ comeback and finished with 18 points. Jawun Evans – three days after scoring 42 points against Oklahoma, managed just 12 points against Texas.

Texas led 40-25 at halftime after the Cowboys started the game by making a putrid three of 18 shots from the field. After facing West Virginia, Texas must travel to Kansas to face the Jayhawks next Saturday night.