Basketball

Game Thoughts: Texas 94, ISU 91 (OT)

Javan Felix. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Javan Felix. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Overall Game Thoughts: Texas 94, Iowa State 91 (OT)

What a game.

Just a couple of defensive juggernauts raining solid defensive awareness, positioning and…wait, what now…oh, I see…well…never mind. We outscored somebody. YAY!

Offense:

Not just somebody. An Iowa State team that might be the most gifted offensive team in the nation.

Unfazed by a mediocre (to put it mildly) last four games shooting from deep, the Longhorns came out with guns blazing against a Cyclone team that has struggled all year long with contesting three point shots and put it on them to the tune of 13-31. It was the kind of shooting confidence that defined the first 11 games of Texas’ season before Ridley’s injury spurred on perimeter struggles for a Longhorns team that is gifted but inconsistent from deep.

Still, the three pointers were only a piece to the confident puzzle that was this game for UT. Taylor played, perhaps, his most dominant game as a Longhorn. Lammert and Javan did a great job of creating spacing with subtle movement against help/hedges. Davis and Mack both shot with confidence and composure.

It was truly a team effort with some great leadership by Taylor to outplay one of the best pure point guards in the country in Monte Morris.

Make no mistake, Iowa State needed a win tonight, but Texas never backed down, even in the face of some terrific shotmaking by an ISU team that wanted desperately to come back from a 1-2 hole in league play.

Tough to say whether or not the Longhorns can replicate this kind of shooting, but the ball and player movement, combined with the positive attitude, were a tribute to the kind of basketball Shaka Smart wants from his teams.

Defense:

ISU shot 54% from the field and it’s arguable that Texas played as well, awareness-wise, as it has all season.

Texas clearly was comfortable working switches (a dozen+ looks with Felix/Taylor/Davis on Niang was proof of that) against a Cyclone team whose offensive playmakers are best with their face to the basket. It was a smart gamble, even with as well as ISU shot the ball because it enabled Texas to stay within reason in how they rebounded the ball, defensively.

And, look, ISU hit, what, 10…12 shots with a Texas hand in their face? Including Thomas who has come on as of late but still is more of a catch and shoot guy instead of the pull penetrator he was today.

The numbers won’t look pretty, but it was the kind of defensive game any team could expect against an ISU team this gifted scoring the basketball.

A Look at the Numbers:

ISU shot 54.3% (38-70) overall, 35.3% (6-17) from three, and 69.2% (9-13) from the line.

Texas shot 48.6% (36-74) overall, 41.9% (13-31) from three, and 60% (9-15) from the line.

ISU won the rebounding battle (40-33), while Texas had more assists (14-12) and fewer turnovers (5-8).

Star of the Game: Isaiah Taylor

Midway through the first half, Isaiah found himself covered by Nader on a switch. He recognized the mismatch he had, quickness wise, put Nader into a situation where he was uncomfortable leaning forward after some nifty dribbling and attacked the middle of the floor.

In the past, Taylor (28 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover) would have found that soft spot, pulled up and put up a floater. Sometimes he’d make those, sometimes not.

This time, however, he hesitated once he found the hole in the middle, pulled four ISU defenders into the post and then kicked out the ball to Tevin Mack for a three that put Texas up by eight on their way to an 11 point halftime lead.

Later, in the second half, he took a few extra dribbles in a halfcourt possession where Mckay helped off Lammert in an effort to freeze McKay to provide spacing for Connor. Lammert hit that three after a clean pass into the pocket.

Those two plays, aside from Isaiah’s scoring, which was awesome, showcase a player who is better understanding what it means to facilitate a team in front of our eyes.

Making your teammates better is more than just scoring. Even though the scoring helps, it’s also about empowering them to score when they are open and ready for looks.

Fantastic game from Taylor as his team looks to salvage whatever they can from a season that doesn’t match what they hoped it would two weeks ago.

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

The Endgame:

Every Longhorn fan knew Texas needed to shoot well to win a game like this.

They did, and they won.

Should have been in regulation, by the way (what a ****ty no-call…good grief).

Still, this was a Cyclone team that was fighting for their Big 12 lives, knowing that all of KU, OU and WVU are going to be tough to knock catch when the Cyclones have three league losses already. And Texas won.

Maybe it carries over to Saturday’s game against Okie State, maybe not, but there’s no replacing the confidence a win like this provides any team, especially one that needed to believe all was not lost after the injury it’s sustained.

Nice win for Texas with a solid chance of pulling above .500 on Saturday against a Cowboy team dealing with an injury to their best player, too.

From: Mike Blackwell

AUSTIN — The Texas basketball team proved Tuesday night that perhaps there is life after Cam Ridley after all, as the Longhorns upset the 17th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones 94-91 in overtime at the Erwin Center.

Georges Niang’s air-balled his attempt to tie the game at the end of overtime, securing the win for the Longhorns over the Cyclones, who now sit 1-3 in the Big 12. Texas is 2-2 in the Big 12 and 10-6 overall. The Cyclones fall to 12-4 overall.

Texas picked up a game-high 28 points from Isaiah Taylor, with six rebounds and six assists, and turned the ball over exactly once while playing an exhausting 41 minutes.

Prince Ibeh. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Prince Ibeh. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Oh, and he said afterward that he was sick.

“I think I’ve been getting sick the last couple of days, and my teammates were calling this the ‘flu game'” said Taylor, who appeared to be fouled in the act of shooting at the end of regulation with the scored tied 87-87. “I think at the end of regulation, I thought I got an angle, and he got a little bit of my arm, unfortunately we didn’t get the call.”

Turns out, it didn’t matter. Taylor scored five points in overtime and Javan Felix added a layup as Texas secured the win.

“I thought our guys really did a good job of staying turned on tonight,” said Texas coach Shaka Smart. “Sometimes when things don’t go well for you, you kind of turn off, but you’re not going to be great doing that. It says something about our guys that they responded after a heartbreaking loss in a game that our guys felt like we should’ve won (TCU).”

Taylor wasn’t the only effective scorer for Texas Tuesday: Eric Davis and Tevin Mack each scored 14 points, and Felix added 13. The Longhorns needed all of their offensive output – Niang was terrific, scoring 27 points, 19 of which came after halftime. Monte Morris had 17 for the Cyclones, and Deonte Burton scored 14.

“This is such a tough league,” Smart said. “It tells you something that we beat a ranked team in Iowa State, and yet they are 1-3 in the league.”

Texas blitzed the Cyclones at the end of the first half with a 16-2 run before Iowa State made its second half run. The Longhorns host Oklahoma State Saturday.