In an all too familiar Texas vs. Kansas game, both teams brought out the best in the other. In another similar story line, Texas played out of their minds for the first half and built a double digit advantage only to see it all swept away in the second. Congratulations to Kansas and Bill Self. The 83-73 victory is the final piece of a 14-2 Big XII campaign and another conference title.
The loss makes the Longhorns the #5 seed in the Big XII tourney. Texas will get #12 seed Colorado at 2 pm on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. The winner will take on #4 seed Kansas State at 2 pm on Thursday. The Big XII tournament schedule is here.
Before we look too to the Big XII and the NCAA tournaments, a few thoughts.
- Considering the opponent and the fact that the game was in Lawrence, the first half was Texas’s best of the season. On offense, Damion James was hitting shots and attacking the rim; Dogus Balbay took advantage of a legitimate defense and caused havoc in the lane; and Dexter Pittman was incredibly active on the low blocks. The Texas defense was almost as impressive. The Longhorns were able to keep Sherron Collins out of the lane, for the most part, found KU’s three point shooters in the half court, and limited the Jayhawks’ transition game.
- As impressive as the first half was, the second half was equally disappointing. It was not just that Texas blew a seven point halftime lead; it was the lack of execution on both ends. Texas forgot to attack the rim off the dribble and missed countless easy ones near the rim. They also failed to get back in transition, which, to me, was the biggest difference in the second half. Sure, KU can score in the half court, but transition scoring is where they really kill their opponents and the second half was a perfect example. Collins attacked the rim in transition and either scored, got fouled, or kicked the ball to shooters on the wing.
- Nice to see Gary Johnson back on the court. He doesn’t look 100% to me but his offense with Damion James on the bench in the second half kept the ‘Horns in it.
Dexter Pittman was huge. He frustrated Cole Aldrich on both ends and was an integral part of the first half success for Texas. I honestly think that Pittman looks like he’s lost even more weight and has a better defined body than he’s had at any point in his Texas career. For as important as he was in the first half, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the easy ones he missed near the rim in the second. He got the same looks in the second that he did in the first. The only difference was the lack of a finish. If Dex finishes near the rim early in the second, this game might have had a different outcome.
- Texas probably loses without AJ’s selfish shot taking and turnovers down the stretch, but his play in the final six minutes didn’t help anything. Abrams was blanketed all game by Brady Morningstar, which is sad by itself, but AJ has to realize that Texas was still in the game, without his scoring. There was no reason to try to take over the game with forced threes and dribble drives. Know your game; everyone else does.
- Damion James is a beast and a warrior. He can play for me anytime. He never gives up, plays bigger than his height, and can be an incredible scorer. His foul trouble in the second half was another big difference between the two halves.
- Last, Texas gave a great effort today. KU is a very good basketball team and winners of 41 straight in Allen Fieldhouse. Texas knew heading into the game that it wasn’t going to be easy. Credit the Longhorns’ effort and heart. This is nowhere near Rick Barnes’s most talented Texas team, but it definitely another team that should make all Texas fans proud.
Hook ‘em Horns!
NEXT GAME: vs. Colorado (Oklahoma City) – Wednesday 3/11 2 pm Big 12 Network