Texas Longhorns Basketball: Guard Play Crucial For Opponents Success

Let's face it, Texas basketball is enjoying one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent college hoops memory.  A mere one year removed from the biggest collapse in program history, the Texas Longhorns have risen from the depths of performance despair and are on the cusp of regaining the top spot in the polls.

Most fans who follow this year's team closely will still point to a couple of hindrances: free-throw shooting and the "second-half" sputter.  Clearly, for Texas to make a deep post-season run, they will need to start showing improvement in both of those areas. 

If we were to nitpick and look for a third potential weakness worth keeping an eye on, it is perhaps that Texas has at times struggled to shut down the opposition's top guard.  Or perhaps the better way to look at it is that if you want a chance to beat Texas, you'd better have a guard who can create his own offense and fill it up.

You can see from the chart below where several marquee guards have had above average games against the Horns.  Fortunately, in most instances Texas' nation-leading team defense overcame these top-line performances to help secure wins for the Horns. 

 


Joseph/Brown

Player

Game Summary

Season Avg thru 2/15

Opp

Pts

Asst

Name

Pts

FG%

3PT%

Pts

FG%

3PT%

Illinois

18

1

D McCamey

22

50.0%

40.0%

14.360

44.0%

47.2%

Pitt

16

5

A Gibbs

24

57.1%

42.9%

16.304

43.6%

46.3%

UNC

31

4

H Barnes

16

50.0%

25.0%

13.500

40.9%

32.1%

 

 

D Strickland

18

60.0%

100.0%

7.960

46.9%

26.9%

MSU

8

5

K Lucas

17

38.5%

25.0%

16.080

43.8%

40.2%

 

 

D Summers

11

36.4%

33.3%

12.640

40.9%

37.5%

UConn

30

6

K Walker

22

29.6%

40.0%

22.833

42.4%

36.2%

 

 

R Smith

13

54.5%

33.3%

7.292

39.2%

29.4%

KU

34

1

T Reed

17

50.0%

55.6%

9.731

41.2%

38.2%

aTm-2

19

6

BJ Holmes

19

75.0%

33.3%

10.083

43.2%

43.7%

TTech-2

16

5

J Robinson

16

36.4%

50.0%

13.708

37.8%

41.8%

Baylor

22

3

L Dunn

26

42.3%

25.0%

20.773

42.1%

39.9%

 

 

It is important to note that in these outings, Texas did an impressive job holding the opposition's front line to below average offensive output (except for maybe UConn's Oriakhi).  Texas cuts off lanes and forces you to beat them from the perimeter.  And that is exactly what Pitt and UConn were able to muster.

The Horns have overcome this solid guard play by responding on both ends of the court.  It shows that for any remaining opponent to beat Texas, one or more guards will have to have great games.  Trips Right at Barking Carnival points this out as a key to the OSU game in his insightful game preview.

This is an area to watch for the balance of the regular season and, especially, in looking at post-season match ups.  While it's hard to say that Texas has "struggled" with perimeter defense (opponents are, after all, shooting just 27.9% from downtown), this data does suggest the kind of match up which could challenge Texas -- a team with a guard or two who can really make their own offense.

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