Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 6

Ioannis Papapetrou celebrates victory. - Cooper Neill

Inside the Numbers looks back at Texas' wins over Texas State and North Carolina.

One point per possession is the magic number for the Texas offense. When the Longhorns crack the one point per possession barrier on offense, as they did Wednesday night against North Carolina, they have a really good chance to win. That is because, through the first 11 games of this season, only one Longhorn opponent has scored more than one point per possession on the tough Texas defense. That opponent, of course, was Chaminade.

One point per possession doesn't actually take all that much to get to. Texas merely needs to do the two things coach Rick Barnes' offenses have always done well. The Longhorns must protect the ball and crash the offensive glass. When Texas does these two things, as they did against North Carolina, only so-so shot making is required to pass the magical one point per possession threshold. Protecting the rock has been a problem early this year, but Texas has now played three consecutive games where it turned the ball over in less than 20 percent of its possessions. The offensive rebounding hasn't been consistent, but it should come eventually from a team with as much size as this one has.

This Texas team is still going to have ups and downs, but if you can't see great potential for this unit, then I don't know what to tell you. When they manage just a modest one point per possession, they are capable of beating almost anyone.

The Week In Review

Background information on the statistics is posted here, here, and here.

TEXAS (75) vs TEXAS STATE (63)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

TEXAS ST

DIFFERENCE

FGA

68

58

10

FTA

21

30

-9

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

78.0

72.3

5.7

Off Rebs

11

10

1

TOs

14

18

-4

ORB - TO

-3

-8

5

TS%

0.481

0.436

0.045

ORB%

26%

24%

TO%

17%

22%

Points/100 Poss

93

79

Texas beat Texas State in a game that was played at a furious pace, with an estimated 81 possessions for each team. The Longhorns prevailed, attempting more shots than the Bobcats (where "shots" refers to the composite number FGA + 0.475xFTA), and making better use of their shots, as indicated by team true shooting percentages.

The large number of Texas fans who were unable to see this game missed what was probably Javan Felix's best performance of the season. We will get into more details below about the good things that Felix did, but the first item worth pointing out is the Texas turnover percentage. The Longhorns turned the ball over in only 17 percent of their possessions. Furthermore, Texas managed this low turnover rate against Texas State, a team that turns its opponents over a lot. Felix turned the ball over in 21 percent of the possessions that ended with the ball in his hands, which all in all is not a bad rate. Since arriving at Texas, Rick Barnes has won 71 percent of his games, and a large number of these wins are due to the fact that his teams generally protect the rock. This year, the Longhorns have been plagued by turnover trouble, and getting things back on track will require improvement in the turnover department. Perhaps the Longhorns are turning a corner?

Neither team generated many second chance shots. On the season, Texas is now averaging an offensive rebounding percentage of 33 percent, well below historical norms for Barnes' teams. Given the Longhorns' shooting problems, creating more opportunities on the offensive glass would help significantly. While as a team, Texas didn't do much on the offensive boards, Jonathan Holmes did some serious rebounding work. Holmes got to 21 percent of the available offensive rebounds while on the floor. He is one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation. Other than Holmes, Texas State did a good job of keeping the Longhorns off the offensive glass.

The shooting was pretty ugly for both teams. Texas' true shooting percentage of 0.481 is not what you would call good. Jonathan Holmes had an excellent game, with 4.5 Points Above Median (PAM). The bulk of Holmes' points came at the rim, although he also went 1-2 from three point range and 3-4 at the free throw line. Demarcus Holland had a PAM of 3.7, with his only three shot attempts coming at the rim. Julien Lewis managed a PAM of 1.5, and Javan Felix had a PAM of 1.4.

Javan Felix had a nice day, as indicated by both his PAM and turnover rate. Felix shot 17 times. Eight of these shots came at the rim, which is a significant departure from his typical shot distribution; on the season, over half of Felix' shot attempts are two point jump shots. Against the Bobcats, Felix was able to attack the rim and finish, hitting five of his eight shots from in close.

Sheldon McClellan and Cameron Ridley both struggled, with PAMs of -4.7 and -4.8, respectively. As a team, Texas struggled on jump shots, hitting 27 percent of three point attempts, and only making 12 percent of two point jumpers. The saving grace for the Texas offense was that the Longhorns took 43 percent of their shots at the rim and hit 69 percent of these shots. Texas was also 17-21 from the free throw line.

The Texas defense was again very good. Only Nick Hinton (PAM=3.1) really hurt Texas. Texas didn't rack up gaudy shot blocking totals, as Ridley and Ibeh only played a combined 21 minutes.

TEXAS (85) vs NORTH CAROLINA (67)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

OPPONENT

DIFFERENCE

FGA

74

67

7

FTA

26

32

-6

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

86.4

82.2

4.2

Off Rebs

18

20

-2

TOs

13

18

-5

ORB - TO

5

2

3

TS%

0.492

0.408

0.085

ORB%

40%

42%

TO%

16%

22%

Points/100 Poss

104

84

This win over North Carolina was quintessential Rick Barnes basketball. Texas took four more shots than the Tar Heels. These shots were earned by protecting the ball (Texas' 16 percent turnover rate was outstanding) and by crashing the offensive glass. The Texas true shooting percentage wasn't anything special, but the Horns put Carolina's offense in a bench vice and turned the screw until there was nothing left. Texas ended up with a sizable advantage in both true shooting percentage and the number of shots taken, which resulted in an 18 point margin of victory.

The pace of this game was fast, with 81 possessions per team. This is how UNC wants to play. Texas benefits from running as well, as it creates good shots for the Longhorns without having to break down a dug in defense. Texas pushed the tempo hard against UNC off of rebounds. More than half of Texas' initial shot attempts after rebounding a Tar Heel miss came within the first ten seconds of the ensuing possession, and 70 percent of these shots were at the rim. The Texas offense was in attack mode all evening, ending up getting 38 percent of all shots at the rim, and converting on 54 percent of these attempts from in close. The only thing holding the Longhorns back from a truly outstanding offensive performance was a less than optimal distribution of jump shots; 39 percent of Texas shot attempts were two point jump shots, while 23 percent were from beyond the arc. The Longhorns hit 31 percent of their two point jump shots (a pretty typical shooting percentage) and 35 percent of their three point jump shots. The threes are worth more than the twos on the score board, so when you have to settle for a jumper, it is better to do it from behind the line.

Javan Felix had a good game. He didn't have an efficient scoring game, with a PAM of -4.9, but outside of his shooting he played well. He only turned the ball over in 23 percent of the possessions that ended with the ball in his hands, and he assisted on roughly one third of all Texas field goals while on the floor. Sheldon McClellan also struggled, with a PAM of -4.2. Think about that. Texas beat UNC by 18 on a game where they didn't get efficient scoring from McClellan. Last season's team struggled to win when J'Covan Brown was anything less than spectacular. This team can survive a rough shooting night from McClellan and Julien Lewis (PAM=-0.8) against a good opponent. That is the power of defense.

The Texas defense showed no mercy. Only one Tar Heel managed a PAM greater than one (Brice Johnson, PAM=1.1). Future pros James McAdoo (PAM=-1.1), Reggie Bullock (PAM=-1.1), and P.J. Hairston (PAM=-4.3) were all on lock down. UNC only got off 28 percent of its shots from three point range, and 30 percent of its attempts at the rim. 42 percent of the Heels' shots were two point jump shots, and they made 29 percent on these attempts.

Jonathan Holmes led the Longhorns with a PAM of 5.4. He did his usual work on the boards, and hit two three point attempts. Ridley was active on the offensive glass, with an offensive rebounding percentage of 13 percent and a PAM of 1.3. Demarcus Holland chipped in a PAM of 2.6, getting both of his attempts at the rim, and hitting both of them. Ioannis Papapetrou gave Texas everything that it needed, pulling down 44 percent of the available defensive rebounds while on the court, managing a PAM of 1.5, breaking the press, and then icing the game at the free throw line.

It was a great team win that shows the true potential of this group.

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