Texas Longhorns Basketball: Inside the Numbers, Week 16

The Texas interior defense is not at the level it was earlier in the season. - USA TODAY Sports

The Texas offense is good again, while the defense struggles.

Over the last several weeks, the story of the Texas season has shifted. Early in the season, the Texas defense was one of the very best in all of college basketball, but over the last several months things have changed. Two weeks ago, I pointed out the decline of the Texas defense during conference play, and since I wrote about it things have actually gotten worse.

The Longhorns are struggling on defense. An inability to rebound is Texas' number one problem; Rick Barnes' team is currently the worst defensive rebounding team in the Big 12, allowing conference opponents an offensive rebounding percentage of 37 percent. The difference between Texas' defensive rebounding and the conference median level is worth about 0.02 points per possession. Texas is also the team in the conference most likely to put their opponents at the line, allowing 0.47 free throw attempts for each field goal attempt. The difference between this free throw rate and the conference median rate is worth about 0.01 points per possession. The combined effects of Texas' rebounding and fouling problems is equivalent to the difference in points per possession between Texas' defense and Oklahoma, the fourth best defense in the Big 12.

Since Myck Kabongo has returned the Texas offense has improved significantly. With the exception of the Kansas game, the Texas offense has done well, and the poor performance in the Kansas game was as much as anything a failure to knock down open threes. Kabongo has looked like a better version of the player he was a season ago. In his first four games back, Kabongo has attempted 25 of his 43 shots at the rim, and has taken 0.6 free throw for every field goal. He has also cut down his turnover rate. Keep in mind that these numbers are only over four games, and so we have a pretty small sample size to look at. I can't imagine that he will continue to get 58 percent of his shot attempts at the basket. Still, at least through these four games, Kabongo's improvement seems obvious.

Kabongo's ability to break down a defense was perhaps the biggest thing missing from the Texas offense prior to his return. If you look around college basketball, you will be hard pressed to find many good offenses that don't have at least one guy who can break down the defense with the dribble. Without that sort of player, everything becomes difficult. With that sort of player, life becomes much easier.

The Week In Review

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

TEXAS (68) vs TCU (59)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

TCU

DIFFERENCE

FGA

48

46

2

FTA

21

24

-3

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

58.0

57.4

0.6

Off Rebs

10

14

-4

TOs

9

10

-1

ORB - TO

1

4

-3

TS%

0.586

0.514

0.073

ORB%

37%

45%

TO%

16%

19%

Points/100 Poss

119

110

While this game was briefly close, Texas won pretty easily on the strength of a large true shooting percentage advantage. The Texas offense was outstanding in this game. The Longhorns hit shots, got to the free throw line, protected the ball, and crashed the offensive glass. This game would have been a blowout if Texas had done a better job on the defensive boards, as TCU rebounded 45 percent of its own misses.

Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh, and Cameron Ridley (in very limited minutes) all did good work on the defensive glass for Texas, all registering defensive rebounding percentages greater than 20 percent. Guard Demarcus Holland also chipped in, chasing down 18 percent of the available defensive rebounds while on the court. The problem for Texas was that starting center Connor Lammert only managed a 16 percent defensive rebounding percentage, and Ioannis Papapetrou only grabbed 4 percent of the potential defensive boards while playing. To be good on the defensive glass, Texas needs something closer to 20 percent and 10 percent rebounding percentages from Lammert and Papapetrou.

TCU also stayed in the game by hitting mid-range shots, going 10 of 19 on two point jumpers. This allowed the Horned Frogs to nearly shoot a respectable true shooting percentage in a game where they only converted on 44 percent of their attempts at the rim. Rick Barnes' team blocked 17 percent of TCU's layups and dunks. Prince Ibeh and Ioannis Papapetrou each blocked two shots.

The Longhorn offense was effective. Connor Lammert led the way with 5.9 Points Above Median (PAM). While Lammert struggled on the defensive end, his offense made up for it. The lefty was 3-3 on shots at the rim, 1-3 on two point jumpers, and 3-3 from the free throw line. Demarcus Holland had a PAM of 4.8, which he earned by hitting his only shot at the rim, hitting his only three, and going 4-5 from the free throw line. Ioannis Papapetrou went 4-8 from three point range, posting a PAM of 3.5.

Texas attacked the rim, getting 23 of their 48 shot attempts at the basket. Myck Kabongo was able to get to the cup whenever he wanted in the first half, and when TCU tightened up the gaps in the second half, Ioannis Papapetrou took over from three point range.

TEXAS (69) vs KANSAS STATE (81)

CATEGORY

TEXAS

KANSAS ST

DIFFERENCE

FGA

50

54

-4

FTA

33

22

11

FGA + 0.475 x FTA

65.7

64.5

1.2

Off Rebs

14

12

2

TOs

12

12

0

ORB - TO

2

0

2

TS%

0.525

0.628

-0.103

ORB%

39%

41%

TO%

19%

19%

Points/100 Poss

108

126

This was another respectable offensive showing by the Texas Longhorns, who seem to have morphed from a passive jump shooting team to a squad that attacks the rim. As was the case in the TCU game, Texas attacked the basket, getting 22 of their 50 field goal attempts at the rim, and converting on 68 percent of these layups and dunks. Texas also took 0.66 free throws for every field goal. Add in a 39 percent offensive rebounding percentage and an only 19 percent turnover rate, and I like the new look of the Texas offense.

I do not, however, care for the new look of the Longhorn D. Kansas State scored at will against the Longhorns. Obviously, credit is due to Kansas State, a strong team that hit 50 percent of their threes on the night. That will happen from time to time, and it doesn't necessarily represent a black mark against the Texas defense. The problem in this game was that the Wildcats abused Rick Barnes' big men inside. Specifically, Jordan Henriquez and Thomas Gipson abused Connor Lammert. Henriquez pulled down 30 percent of the possible offensive rebounds while on the floor, compared with Lammert's six percent defensive rebounding percentage. Both Gibson and Henriquez overpowered the Texas big men, with Gibson netting a PAM of 3.8 and Henriquez notching a PAM of 1.2.

Part of the problem was that Texas' most physically imposing big man, center Cameron Ridley, missed the game with some sort of eyelid infection. I am sure that is as gross as it sounds. Additionally, Holmes and Papapetrou didn't give Lammert much help on the defensive glass, and Prince Ibeh was only somewhat better in his limited minutes.

With some off-season work in the weight room, this will start to happen to Lammert less and less. While Lammert is certainly skilled enough to play, he is not physically ready to bang bodies in the Big 12 game after game. Players like the 250 pound Henriquez and the 270 pound Gibson are just too strong for Lammert. But Lammert is 18, and he will get stronger.

For the Texas offense, this was Myck Kabongo's night. Kabongo registered a 7.9 PAM, attacking the rim in transition against Kansas State's defense. The Texas point guard was again aggressive, hitting six of his eight shots at the rim, and earning 10 free throws. Kabongo even went 2-4 from three point range. When you additionally consider that Kabongo only turned the ball over in 15 percent of the possessions that ended with the ball in his hands, and that he also had more rebounds than any other Longhorn, and it is safe to say that Kabongo had a good night.

Sheldon McClellan was also in attack mode. We have only seen occasional flashes of this from McClellan this season, such as in the second overtime against Iowa State a few weeks ago. McClellan was aggressive, getting five of his ten shot attempts at the rim, rather than settling for jump shots as he has much of the season. Attacking earned McClellan a PAM of 4.9. McClellan also went after rebounds, playing with energy at both ends of the floor. Aggressive and attacking Sheldon is a far better player than catch-and-shoot jump shot Sheldon.

Despite strong nights by Kabongo and McClellan, Texas still hardly was in this game. Kansas State put on an offensive clinic, hitting 50 percent of their threes, protecting the rock, and earning what seemed like unlimited second chance shots on the offensive glass. Angel Rodriguez was fabulous, netting a PAM of 4.7 while assisting on 39 percent of his teammates' baskets while he was in the game. Rodney McGruder did what he does, dropping a PAM of 5.2. While McGruder, Rodriguez, and Gibson led the way, virtually every Kansas State player was productive on offense. Drive and kick three point shots fell from everywhere, while the big guys pushed around the young Longhorns inside.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Burnt Orange Nation

You must be a member of Burnt Orange Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Burnt Orange Nation. You should read them.

Join Burnt Orange Nation

You must be a member of Burnt Orange Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Burnt Orange Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker