Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 9

Javan Felix is coming into his own. - USA TODAY Sports

Texas lost to Baylor, but Javan Felix played the game of his young life. The freshman point guard scored 26 points and dished nine assists, but neither one of those were the most significant number in his stat line. In Felix's 43 minutes played last Saturday, he controlled the ball almost continuously for the Texas Longhorns, and he only turned the ball over a single time. One turnover in a game where Felix attempted 23 field goals and assisted on 41 percent of the Texas field goals that he did not score himself is truly remarkable. The Texas offense still has a long way to go, but Felix has now been playing well since the disaster against UCLA. His skill with the ball has been evident from the first time he took the floor in November, and now he is starting to become more comfortable as a decision maker. He has mostly stopped throwing the ball away.

Texas has shifted offensive tactics in recent weeks, and this has helped Felix out as well. The Longhorns have adopted a more ball-screen heavy attack, and Felix is benefiting from it. Against Baylor (which to be fair is far from the best defense Texas will face), Felix was able to get into the lane whenever he wanted. While his 11-23 shooting (47 percent) isn't exactly an eye popping shooting percentage, many of his misses came after he had drawn help defenders, which allowed Texas the opportunity to get offensive rebounds. Five of Felix's 12 misses led to offensive boards by the Longhorns. Not all misses are created equal, and misses from near the basket, which are much more likely to be rebounded by the offense than misses from outside, are the best kind. And a missed shot is always better offense than a turnover.

The Week In Review

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

TEXAS (79) vs OPPONENT (86)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

OPPONENT

DIFFERENCE

FGA

74

64

10

FTA

14

45

-31

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

80.7

85.4

-4.7

Off Rebs

16

18

-2

TOs

13

13

0

ORB - TO

3

5

-2

TS%

0.490

0.504

-0.014

ORB%

37%

39%

TO%

17%

16%

Points/100 Poss

102

107

Baylor beat Texas with a slight advantage in the number of shots (where "shots" refers to the composite number FGA + 0.475xFTA) and a modest advantage in true shooting percentage. Baylor wasn't able to shoot particularly well from the floor, only managing an effective field goal percentage of 39 percent against the NCAA's No. 1 effective field goal percentage defense. The Bear's true shooting percentage advantage was caused by a massive difference in the number of free throws attempted by each team. Baylor's 31 extra free throw attempts is the most important stat of the game.

Neither team created much of an advantage on turnovers, or on the offensive glass. Both Texas and Baylor kept the turnovers down, and both Texas and Baylor effectively crashed the offensive glass (or ineffectively controlled the defensive glass, depending on your perspective). As I pointed out above, Javan Felix did a tremendous job protecting the ball for Texas, while Baylor's primary ball handler Pierre Jackson only turned the ball over in 13 percent of the possessions that ended with the ball in his hands. This was Jackson's biggest problem last season, but Jackson so far this year has been careful with the rock.

Both teams shined on the offensive glass, and as a result neither team created an advantage there. Isaiah Austin was huge on the offensive boards for Baylor, pulling down 15 percent of the potential offensive boards while on the court. My favorite Austin rebound wasn't counted in the box score; when the ball became lodged at the top of the backboard, the officials handed Austin a broom and asked him to get it down, which he did without trouble. It is handy to have a guy that tall from time to time. The Texas offensive rebounding was a team effort, but Jonathan Holmes, Jaylen Bond, and Sheldon McClellan had the greatest impact.

Cory Jefferson led all scorers with 9.0 Points Above Median (PAM). Jefferson went 7-10 from the floor, and 11-14 from the free throw line. Jefferson was only a part time player for Baylor a year ago. This year, the 6-9 junior has emerged as one of Baylor's best players, scoring around the basket, crashing the boards, and blocking shots. Pierre Jackson chipped in a PAM of 4.7, and Isaiah Austin had a PAM of 2.8. Sheldon McClellan led Texas with a PAM of 1.8. Javan Felix's PAM of 0.7 reflects his modest shooting percentage. Felix's real value on the day was created by using so many Texas possessions without turning the ball over, and in creating shots for himself and others. PAM isn't the proper tool for understanding what Felix did.

The Baylor Bears are now the second team to score more than a point per possession against the Texas defense. They beat Texas from the only spot on the floor where you can't contest the shots.

The Week Ahead

Texas plays West Virginia tonight in the Erwin Center, and travels to Ames to face the Iowa State Cyclones this Saturday. West Virginia has every bit as much trouble shooting the ball as Texas does, so the game in Austin could be ugly. Put the kids to bed early tonight before watching the game, as you don't want the young and impressionable to be exposed to this -- they could grow up hating basketball.

After playing a team that can't shoot, the Longhorns will have to contend with a team that can. Iowa State is currently ranked No. 38 in the nation in effective field goal percentage. The young Longhorns will have their hands full in a tough road game, but if they can limit the Hilton magic and pull out a win against Fred Hoiberg's squad, Texas will have made a significant step toward advancing to the NCAA tournament.

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