Texas vs Wake Forest GameFlow, season recap

Link to box score and play-by-play data

Note some additional info besides what's in the box score is listed below it:

Points in the paint-WF 42,UT 26. Points off turnovers-WF 7,UT 18.
2nd chance points-WF 25,UT 7. Fast break points-WF 10,UT 8.
Bench points-WF 28,UT 39. Score tied-7 times. Lead changed-5 times.
Last FG-WF OT-00:01, UT OT-02:05.
Largest lead-WF by 12 2nd-13:02, UT by 8 OT-03:04.

The one positive stat that stands out for us is winning the turnover battle convincingly (20-5). Knowing that, how is it that Wake Forest still had more fast-break points than us? We had 11 steals, and yet just 11 points off turnovers more than them... not exactly impressive given the turnover margin.


Link to GameFlow

Player (min) +/- +/- per min
Jordan Hamilton (32) +18 +0.56
Avery Bradley (42) +5 +0.12
Gary Johnson (32) +4 +0.13
Matt Hill (4) +2 +0.50
J'Covan Brown (22) +2 +0.09
Dexter Pittman (21) +1 +0.05
Jai Lucas (1) 0 0.00
Damion James (35) -2 -0.06
Alexis Wangmene (4) -10 -2.50
Justin Mason (32) -25 -0.78


  • I'm sure the first thing you'll notice is the extremes - Hamilton's +18 and Mason's -25. If you look at the rotations Barnes used toward the end of the 2nd half and in OT, or just look at the play-by-play info, you'll notice that Rick put in Mason for defensive purposes and then immediately subbed him out for Hamilton when we were on offense. This is what led to the ridiculous margin between their +/- numbers. Still, even adjusted for this substitution pattern, it can't be denied that we were more effective with Hamilton on the court than Mason.
  • It's upsetting to look at Mason's +/- and compare it to J'Covan Brown's +2 in 10 fewer minutes of action. In a game that goes into overtime, it means every possession in regulation was crucial. Had Barnes allowed Brown to play say, 25 minutes instead of 22, that could've been the difference in the game. While I'm going to miss Mason's tenacity, defense, and blue-collar effort, I'm definitely not going to miss Barnes using him far too much as a conservative option, instead of the more volatile, but more effective player in Brown when his confidence isn't ruined by Barnes' mind games.
  • Other than the overtime collapse, the next biggest failure occurred from the end of the 1st half to the beginning of the 2nd half. You can see on the gameflow that we came back from a 10 point deficit in the 1st half and took a 36-30 lead with under 2 minutes to go. Then what does Barnes do? He inexplicably subs out Gary Johnson for Alexis Wangmene, giving us a 5-man rotation of Mason, Bradley, Hamilton, Wangmene, and Hill. What in the world was he trying to accomplish with this rotation? Naturally, this unit gets outscored by 5 points, and we go into halftime up by just 1.

The Overtime Collapse - What Went Wrong

  • Staying with the GameFlow and play-by-play data, we see Barnes was smart enough to start the overtime with the players that were producing the most and gave Texas the best chance to win: Brown, Bradley, Hamilton, James, and Johnson (at this point frankly, Pittman didn't even deserve playing time, and I'm glad he sat the entire overtime). This unit produced. 2 minutes into the extra period, Texas gained a 76-68 lead. And then...
  • Barnes decides to fix what isn't broken by subbing out Jordan Hamilton for Mason. From here, Mason and Hamilton are subbing in and out for each other. Again, is putting in Mason for his defense at the expense of benching one of your most effective players at the time worth it? While it's not fair to put all the blame here on Mason, Wake immediately cuts into the lead by half (including a Texas miss with Mason on the floor and not Hamilton, along with a Mason foul on C.J. Harris, who sinks both free throws).
  • Moving on, as well as J'Covan Brown played overall and was one of the main reasons we were even able to force overtime, there were some pretty ridiculous mistakes he made in overtime - as in worse than your typical freshman mistake. It was like he had never been involved in a close game where he had to use his noggin. A number of errors Brown made on both sides of the floor certainly contributed to the collapse.

    1. The offensive foul - I mean what was he trying to accomplish? Brown had just made a jumper and then stole the ball with 1:30 left in the game. So hopefully we can at least drain some clock and then get a good shot off with about a minute left. Instead Brown inexplicably decides to barge into a player with his hand, leading to the offensive foul.
    2. Not covering an open three point shooter - I went through the agony of watching the collapse again online using, and I took a screen shot of Texas playing defense. We're up by 4 after Brown sinks 2 free throws.

      Brown's defense


      Note the situation here. We're up by 2 possessions, so the worst case scenario is Wake hitting a three, which would automatically make it a 1 possession game even if we made all our free throws. Brown is the left-most Texas player in the picture. He had to make a split-second decision and obviously made the wrong one. You can see there was a Wake player under the basket due to the chaos of the UT defenders trying to find an assignment. Brown decided to leave an open three point shooter on his right so he could cover the man open under the basket. In this picture, I show Brown stepping away from the open shooter to help cover the player inside. Simultaenously, the Wake player at the perimeter with the ball sees the open shooter and passes it to him, and the three is good. Really J'Covan? Why would you intentionally allow an easy chance for a three just so you can prevent a two?

    3. Passing the ball when you're the best FT shooter on the team - I also took a relevant screen shot of this situation.

      Brown passing


      The issue here is J'Covan simply froze once he catches the inbounds pass and essentially allows himself to get doubled where he's forced to pass the ball. In this picture, he had just caught the pass. As you can see with the arrow I drew, he clearly had the opportunity to advance the ball, and looking at the video - it was much before the double team arrived. The simple question is what was he thinking? Why did it seem like he was stuck in cement? Was it a lack of concentration? Was he scared of dribbling and possibly turning it over? Did he not want to shoot the free throws? Either way, waiting to get doubled and then passing to Johnson was another example of not recognizing the situation. It wouldn't be a reach either to say he demonstrated poor leadership from a point guard, which is a critical element we'll need from him going into the future. As our best free throw shooter, he should refuse to pass the ball in that situation and not allow another teammate to shoot those freebies. Ideally, our PG is the floor leader and represents the coach on the floor. Can we say this yet about Brown? Not even close IMO. It's going to be interesting to see how much he can grow from a leadership and IQ standpoint in the offseason. Will Barnes and his inexperienced staff be able to give him the valuable coaching he needs to grow?

  • There was also some bad luck involved, which made me wonder if it was even meant to be. If you recall the two free throws Brown missed in overtime, the first one was straight on but a tad short. The second looked perfect. It was halfway down and then spun out. Perhaps missing those free throws really disrupted Brown in the head and led to his subsequent mental blunders. When Brown gave up the ball to Johnson at the end, Wake Forest's coach was ordering his players to foul immediately but they didn't listen. A lucky break for them. Another unfortunate event out of our control (and something I don't feel was discussed enough due to the circumstances of the collapse) was the ridiculous foul called on Damion James, which fouled him out. Yes, I took a screen shot of it as well.

    James' "over the back" foul


    I tried to take a screen shot of what I thought exhibited the most contact (not sure why the Wake player looks like a big black blob). Looks like most of the contact was above the heads. It was two players fighting for a rebound, with neither player committing any kind of act that would give them an unfair advantage. Considering how referees normally swallow the whistle in crunch time, I was disgusted at the ref calling a foul on this play. Not only did it DQ James, but the Wake player sunk both free throws with the clock stopped. LET THEM PLAY!

So in summary, after we went up 8 points in overtime, a comedy of errors including poor substitutions by Rick Barnes, a defensive meltdown allowing an open three, fouls (one undeserved) leading to free points for Wake Forest, missed free throws by Brown and Johnson, and Brown passing up free throws, along with some bad luck led to a spectacular collapse and tournament elimination.


Before I wrap this up, I wanted to see how our Pomeroy offensive and defensive efficiency numbers changed throughout the season. If you go to Texas' Pomeroy page, you can calculate the raw offense and defense efficiency since you have the score, and the number of possessions in the game. I put the numbers in a spreadsheet and plotted the values:

Link to Pomeroy plot


This is a moving average of our raw offensive efficiency in blue and defensive efficiency in red (for example, at game #20, you're looking at our efficiencies after all 20 games, not just the 20th game. To calculate this, it's points scored divided by # of possessions X 100. Same goes for defense. Remember: higher the offense line, the better. The lower the defensive line, the better. Nothing of shock value here. I did want to point out how losing Balbay effected us, as I pointed out on the plot. When he left, our raw defensive efficiency was about 90 (would rank in the top 10 nationally). A few Baylor games later with no Balbay, it ended at 93.6 (ranked #32).

Out of curiosity, I wanted to put our recent stretch in a more proper context with regard to these raw efficiency stats. I put the 17th win vs A&M in the "bad" section since it was such an ugly game.

First 16 games
Offensive efficiency: 114.6 (would currently be ranked #9)
Defensive efficiency: 83.5 (would currently be ranked #1, and the #2 team would be a full 5 points behind!)

Last 18 games
Offensive efficiency: 103.1 (would currently be ranked #141)
Defensive efficiency: 102.9 (would currently be tied with 3 other teams at #215)

LOL! Essentially, we weren't even an NIT quality team starting with the A&M game. A lot of explanations come to mind. Our nonconference schedule was insanely overrated. While we played a few good opponents, there were a number of cupcakes that inflated our efficiency stats. Also, Big XII play slapped us silly.

Well, this wraps up what's probably my last fashionably late fanpost on Texas Basketball for a good 7-8 months. On to baseball and football! Ah, it's great to be a Longhorn.

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