Inside the box score. I was exhausted last night and forced to scramble through a quick post-game wrap earlier today, so let's take a few minutes to peruse the box score from last night's win over Villanova.
- 19-50 (38%) - Villanova FG % Texas did a phenomenal job making life difficult for Villanova's perimeter players in general, but the job Justin Mason did on Scottie Reynolds was simply masterful. That Mase is also playing solid point guard (7 assists, 2 TOs) for Texas on the other end is just remarkable.
- 16:13 (TX) / 13:19 (VU) Assists:Turnovers. The 'Horns picked up 16 assists on their 25 made baskets and would have hit the 20 assist mark if a few chippies inside hadn't been missed. The smothering defense is wonderful, but the progress on offense is the key to this team elevating from very good to elite.
- 11-24 Texas FTs. Yikes. For the season, Texas has now converted just 97 of 166 free throws (58%). Damion (63%) and Gary (65%) need to get their percentages north of 70%. Clint Chapman (1-12), Varez Ward (5-14), and Mase (12-27) need try shooting with their eyes open. My God.
- 15 minutes, 0 points, 0 boards, 2 TOs - Connor Atchley. I defended him in the game thread last night (he's quietly been more solid than most realize this season), but he definitely hasn't appeared to be in a groove of late, and he was flat out bad last night. If he's hurt, he needs to rest. Still, Texas fans should be patient. He'll be fine.
- 21 minutes, 5 points 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers - Varez Ward. I shall call him Mini-Mase. The kid defends, hustles, rebounds, and will surprise you with an eye-opener on the offensive end once or twice a game. He's raw, but he's active in every phase of the game. Like Mase, he wasn't a recruit with a ton of hype, but he's quickly becoming a key contributor. Nice, Rick.
Awards watch. Let's start with Brian Orakpo, who already won the Bronco Nagurski Award honoring the nation's top defensive player. The Houston Chronicle reports Texas' freakish defensive end could become the first-ever Houston high school player to win the Lombardi Award, which honors the nation's top lineman or linebacker.
Meanwhile, Colt McCoy on Saturday night will try to join Ricky Williams as the second player to win the Heisman Trophy under Mack Brown's direction. Voting for the Heisman officially ends at 5 p.m. ET today, with trophy finalists announced on ESPN at 6 p.m. McCoy is certain to be a finalist. The Heisman Pundit is anticipating an exceptionally close vote.
Finally, over at ESPN.com, Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin names McCoy and Orakpo his conference MVPs on offense and defense. Griffin sensibly names Mack Brown his coach of the year:
After being picked to struggle before the season, Brown prodded the Longhorns to overachieve by leading them to a share of the South Division title and within a whisper of playing for the national championship. Building on the toughness he instilled late last season, his team thrived without a true featured running back and with a defense that thrived against the Big 12's best despite two starting freshmen safeties.
Ohio State pass defense. Taking a look ahead a month to the Fiesta Bowl match up with Ohio State, Keith at Buckeye Commentary is not thrilled with his team's bowl draw and isn't buying the thought that the Bucks will shut down Colt McCoy:
I know it is fashionable to say that Texas "has not seen a secondary/pass defense like Ohio State's," but if you watched any college football this season you know the Buckeyes have not slowed down any meaningful offense. The top 3 passing offenses that Ohio State faced this season: Illinois, Troy, and Purdue, in that order. The fourth best passing team, statisticlly speaking, carved them up to the tune of 4 touchdowns and threw a 35-yard wheel route to the fullback!
Looking at Ohio State's pass D game log, the opposition is a copendium of offensive mediocrity. Meanwhile, the Buckeys' own offense struggled to generate consistent yardage against the best defense's on its schedule.
Even so, Ohio State's exceptionally promising young freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor will only benefit from the month of bowl workouts, while running back terror Beanie Wells will assuredly be rested and healthy for the match up in Glendale. The steadily improved passing from Pryor gives Ohio State an offensive balance comparable to that which Texas saw from Oklahoma State; if Wells can do for Ohio State against the 'Horns what Hunter did for Oklahoma State, the Buckeyes will be able to move the ball.
Of course, it would help if they had a Dez Bryant occupying two members of our secondary, as well. Look for Muschamp to take away Beanie Wells and make Pryor beat the 'Horns with his arm.