Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 10

Jonathan Holmes has started to hit his stride on offense in the last week. - USA TODAY Sports

Texas is 0-3 in Big 12 play, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

The last two week's of the basketball season haven't been very much fun for the Texas Longhorns. Rick Barnes' team is now 0-3 in conference play. This is bad enough, but the problem is, the near future looks even worse. Texas plays next against Kansas, followed by a road trip to Norman. Texas then gets the Red Raiders at home, and then plays on the road against Kansas State. By the time February rolls around, the Longhorns could very easily be looking at a 1-6 conference record.

No sophisticated analysis is required to understand what is wrong with this team. They simply cannot put the ball in the hole. The Texas offense was pretty good last season. The problem is that the five best offensive players on last year's squad were J'Covan Brown, Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, Clint Chapman, and Jonathan Holmes. Brown and Chapman are gone, Kabongo will not play until February, Holmes got off to a slow start -- although he has picked things up lately -- and McClellan is really struggling.

Coming into the season, Texas needed McClellan to be able to pick up more of the scoring load. Last year, McClellan was an efficient offensive player who complemented the volume scoring provided by Brown. While on the floor a year ago, McClellan took 23 percent of Texas shots, while Brown hoisted 32 percent of the Longhorn attempts. This year, more of the Texas offense is being run for McClellan, with the sophomore taking 28 percent of Texas' shots while he is in the game. While last season McClellan had a true shooting percentage of 56 percent, this season it is 50 percent. McClellan almost never turned the ball over a year ago; this season his turnover rate is higher, although it is still quite good.

The greater volume of shots have not gone well for Sheldon McClellan. But it is not just that; McClellan is also being used differently in the Texas offense. A year ago, McClellan took 27 percent of his shots at the rim, and 33 percent on two point jump shots. This year 19 percent of McClellan's attempts come at the rim, while 45 percent are on mid-range shots. As a freshman, the Texas wing did well from mid-range, connecting on 42 percent of these shots. This season, McClellan has only made 29 percent of his two point jump shots.

These numbers are at least partly a consequence of the way McClellan is being used this season in the Texas offense, compared with what he did last season. Last year, McClellan was most effective when he was able to catch the ball on the move, attacking the basket. He got to the bucket more this way. This season, McClellan is spending more time running off of baseline screens and pin-downs, and is ending up with mid-range catch-and-shoot opportunities. 67 percent of McClellan's made two point jump shots have been assisted this season, compared with only 30 percent a season ago. Turning McClellan into a mid-range catch-and-shoot player doesn't really fit his game. Rick Barnes might be better served to create situations where McClellan has the chance to catch the ball moving towards the basket, in the way that he did last season.

The Week In Review

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

TEXAS (53) vs WEST VIRGINIA (57)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

WEST VIRGINIA

DIFFERENCE

FGA

55

62

-7

FTA

25

26

-1

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

66.9

74.4

-7.5

Off Rebs

13

17

-4

TOs

14

11

3

ORB - TO

-1

6

-7

TS%

0.396

0.383

0.013

ORB%

32%

40%

TO%

21%

16%

Points/100 Poss

78

83

This game was no fun to watch, and it is even less fun to write about, so let's stick to the facts. In a game where neither team could hit a bull in the butt with a banjo, Texas had a ever so slight true shooting percentage advantage, but it was not enough to make up for the extra shots taken by West Virginia. This particular iteration of the Mountaineers plays an extreme version of Huggy-ball; they can't shoot worth a lick, but they crash the glass and protect the rock. West Virginia tracked down 40 percent of the possible offensive rebounds, and with so many missed shots, there were a lot of possible offensive rebounds. Bob Huggins' squad also only turned the ball over in only 16 percent of their possessions. When you have a hard time maximizing the value of your shots, you need all the chances that you can get.

The rebounding and turnover advantage of the Mountaineers was decisive. Kevin Noreen and Aaric Murray were the biggest pests on the glass, tracking down 14 percent and 16 percent of the available offensive rebounds while in the game. They also did excellent work on the defensive end, holding the Longhorns to a 32 percent offensive rebounding percentage.

And now on to the shooting. It was ugly. Jonathan Holmes led Texas with 3.9 Points Above Median (PAM), including a three point basket at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Prince Ibeh was also productive in limited minutes, with a PAM of 2.8. The problem was, this productivity was more than offset by Sheldon McClellan, who was clearly hurt. McClellan ended the game with a PAM of -8. This problem was made worse by the fact that Texas' two other wings capable of scoring, Julien Lewis and Ioannis Papapetrou, also had terrible nights shooting the rock, with PAMs of -3.5 and -3.8, respectively.

The shooting situation was actually worse for West Virginia. Only Aaric Murray (PAM=3.5) and Kevin Noreen (PAM=1.3) registered PAM totals greater than zero. Jabarie Hinds shot a lot, and missed a lot, ending the game with a PAM of -8.1.

This was a game that Texas should have won, but a total inability to get any sort of offense cost them against a West Virginia squad that is just OK on defense.

TEXAS (62) vs IOWA STATE (82)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

OPPONENT

DIFFERENCE

FGA

61

57

4

FTA

13

27

-14

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

67.2

69.8

-2.6

Off Rebs

14

13

1

TOs

11

5

6

ORB - TO

3

8

-5

TS%

0.461

0.587

-0.126

ORB%

37%

36%

TO%

17%

8%

Points/100 Poss

97

133

This game, on the other hand, was a straight up ass kicking. Despite losing match-up nightmare Royce White to the NBA, the Iowa State offense is actually better this season than it was last season. The Cyclones are a well-oiled machine that drills three point shots, crashes the offensive glass, and takes care of the rock. And Fred Hoiberg's defense is better than its No. 98 Pomeroy rating suggests; Iowa State opponents have shot an unusually high percentage from the free throw line this season.

The Texas offense wasn't that bad in this game, managing just under a point per possession. This was largely due to a good day on the offensive glass, and at avoiding turnovers. The problem was that the Iowa State offense smoked the Texas defense, putting up 1.3 points per possession. This surpasses Chaminade as the most points per possession that any team has scored against Texas this year.

Iowa State beat Texas nearly every way possible. While the Longhorns were able to get some second chance opportunities against the normally excellent rebounding of the Cyclones, Hoiberg's squad also crashed the offensive glass well, making the rebounding contest nearly a push. And while Texas kept its turnover rate fairly low, Iowa State only turned the ball over in 8 percent of its possessions.

And then there was the shooting. All season, Texas has struggled with shooting. With Sheldon McClellan only playing one minute, the Longhorns looked to Julien Lewis and Ioannis Papapetrou for more of their scoring. The two Texas wings were unable to pick up the offense, with PAMs of -0.3 and 0.2, respectively. Jonathan Holmes led the way for the Longhorns, with a PAM of 2.6, and Cameron Ridley chipped in a PAM of 2.1 in very limited minutes.

Iowa State was very good last season, but the undersized Longhorns matched up with them fairly well, and were able to win two out of three games against the Cyclones. This season, Iowa State looks like a very bad match-up for Texas. Iowa State's personnel and style of play neutralizes one of Texas' biggest strengths -- a great interior defense. Ibeh and Ridley aren't really cut out for chasing fellow freshman Georges Niang around on the perimeter, and playing zone against a team that shoots threes and crashes the offensive glass as well as Hoiberg's team does isn't very much fun. Ibeh and Ridley spent much of the day on the bench. Georges Niang still torched Texas, with a PAM of 7.6. While fellow Big 12 freshman Marcus Smart and Ben McLemore justifiably are receiving national attention, similar attention is due to Niang. Niang's game is different from Royce White's, but both present serious match-up problems for opponents. Korie Lucious also had an outstanding game, posting a PAM of 4.3 while assisting on 51 percent of his teammates' field goals while on the floor. Dangerous shooter Tyrus McGee had a PAM of 5.0, which was mostly the product of his 4-8 shooting from downtown.

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