Texas (8-2) survived their biggest home scare of the season by prevailing 80-76 over a physical Arkansas (8-3) team. I expected a tough matchup but didn't foresee our tremendous struggles controlling the defensive glass and our inexplicable bricks at the free throw line. The second half free throw shooting was absolutely awful and thankfully out of character. The Horns started the second half 6/15 (40%) from the line before Jay Mason hit one and Kevin Durant iced the game with two straight. Luckily we scored just enough to claim our second straight win over an SEC opponent.
First off, to the four fans who kicked me out of their seats with 12 minutes left to go in the second half, F YOU! Yep, that's right, the second half. An hour and a half after tip off. Sure you didn't just want to come for overtime? Give me an f-ing break. Just stay home. We don't need you. We don't want you. F-OFF!
Ok, back to the game. How good was it to see Durant back on form on offense? He didn't play terribly against LSU or Texas State by any means. However, Texas needs him to dominate on the offensive end and he did. This was easily his best game as a Longhorn with his back to the basket. He wanted the ball at the end and his coaches and teammates worked hard to feed it to him time and time again. Like PJ Tucker the last few years, there is not a player in college basketball who can guard Durant one on one.
College basketball fans, let me introduce you to Jay Mason. In a class on seven freshman that included two McDonald's All Americans, Mr. Basketball in the state of Texas, and fan favorite Dexter Pittman, Mason was easily overlooked. No longer. Mason has exceeded any expectations that were reasonably set for him before the season. His hands are extremely active in man to man defense, he rebounds like a player 6'6", he can hit the open outside jumper, and he consistently slashes to the basket and finishes with either hand around the basket. Mason was tremendous. If he is our fourth option on offense, this is a pretty good team.
As for the Keys to the Game: Texas shot 23 free throws and had 11 assists to just 8 turnovers. 2 checks. But the Horns were outrebounded all game (41-36 overall) and allowed the Hogs to shoot 44% from the floor. 2 Xs. The Horns also only forced 11 Arkansas turnovers which they converted into just 11 points. The last key was the biggest though. Durant was involved the whole game. His final line 28 pts (10/16), 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, and just 2 turnovers in 32 minutes of action. The only knock on Durant was his four missed free throws. Overall, Durant was again the best player on the floor. How far can he take us? Only time will tell.
Big win for the Horns. Durant, Mason, and Augustin were awesome. Connor Atchley showed athleticism never seen before. Damion James battled his ass off against taller, stronger, and more physical players. Abrams again hit big threes when it mattered most. I am still too excited to write much more.
Next Game: at Tennessee Saturday Dec. 23rd 11 AM (ESPN)