Texas held a 47-37 lead over West Virginia with 3:41 left in last night's game before completely falling apart and allowing the Mountaineers to go on a 10-0 run to tie the game with 20 seconds left. Leading to this:
Alas, the end result would still wind up the same as on Saturday in Waco, as Texas would score just 3 points in overtime, losing the game 57-53 to drop their record to 8-7 overall, 0-2 in Big 12 play.
A late night working at my office prevented me from attending this game, and considering the way it went down, I'm not sure I want to watch the tape. The optimistic storyline emerging from the team's improved play in late December involved a run through conference play that protected home court against everyone but Kansas and a few timely road wins to finish with 10+ wins and an NCAA bid.
Poof. Up in smoke. That's over with and unless this team pulls a pretty dramatic turnaround, when they find themselves having a dejected Selection Sunday they're going to think back to this three-week stretch when instead of being 11-4 with wins over UCLA in Houston, Baylor in Waco, and West Virginia at home, they fell to 8-7 with three crushing missed opportunities they should have won.
The story last night was the same as it has been all season. The Longhorns defended well, limiting West Virginia to 19 of 62 shooting and just 3 of 20 from beyond the arc (all made in the final 3:14 of regulation, tragically), and after last night's game the difference between the Longhorns' national best 36.8% effective field goal percentage defense and the second-best mark (Maryland, 40.2%) is as large as the difference between No. 2 and No. 34 (Western Illinois, 43.6%). As Jeff and I have both noted repeatedly, if this team could produce even average offensive output, it would win and win often.
Sadly, however, the exceptional defensive numbers serve mostly to highlight just how bad this team has been on offense, with no clearer example than last night's game. I haven't watched it but you don't need to see anything to know what went wrong when the box score includes numbers like these: 19 of 55 shooting (35%) overall, and just 4 of 17 from downtown (24%). Turnovers on 21% of your possessions. And... God, I can barely type this it's so foul... 11 of 25 from the free throw line.
Fans at the Erwin Center watch Texas shoot free throws.
What else is there to say? If Sheldon McClellan is going to go 2 for 13 from the field, 0 for 6 from beyond the arc, and 5 for 10 from the line, we're done. And unfortunately it's a trend that's been ongoing for most of the season now, with Sheldon now sitting at 35% shooting from the field and just 29% from beyond the arc. That just won't cut it, and there's not much sense in harping on anything else when the team cannot. shoot. the. ball. That's not a problem rebounding can solve. That's not a problem that defense can solve. And it's not a problem that coaching can solve. Our players have to make some open shots -- from the field, and from the line.
Right now, it's the reason that this otherwise encouraging young team is on the outside of the NCAA Tournament field looking in.