I am off to Pasadena as well tomorrow morning. Before I leave, a few quick notes on a HUGE win by the Texas men, 69-58 at # 4 Memphis. Neither team played exceptionally well but the Horns came out on top. Turnovers were the big story by both teams. Texas had 20 turnovers. Memphis finished with 22. Texas was also outrebounded by ten by the more athletic and deeper Tigers.
Texas jumped out to a quick double digit lead as Memphis struggled shooting and holding on to the ball. The Horns led by six at halftime and briefly lost the lead 50-49 with just over six minutes left in the game. But the Horns, especially PJ Tucker, were too tough down the stretch knocking down foul shots and forcing Memphis to shoot long and contested threes.
Memphis struggled shooting the ball finishing under 30% from the floor and jacked 32 three point shots hitting just six (19%). As expected, Memphis got a big game from senior Rodney Carney (22 points and 6 rebounds) but not much else from stars Darius Washington or Shawne Williams.
Texas was led once again by PJ Tucker. Tucker (24 points, 13 boards) repeatedly attacked the basket and scored over taller defenders. Lamarcus Aldridge (12 points, 8 rebounds) was productive in the second half but nonexistent in the first after picking up three fouls. Daniel Gibson also looked more comfortable. He didn't rely solely on the three point shot and finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and only one turnover.
Our bench play was absent again. With Mike Williams still hurt, Barnes is forced to go with Conner Atchley as a post sub. Atchley is a redshirt freshman who needs thirty pounds of muscle before he will be effective. JD Lewis and Craig Winder didn't play at all. Neither has played significant minutes in close games. AJ Abrams played decently at point guard. The Horns will need a consistent contribution from Abrams during Big 12 play. The Texas bench scored a grand total of four points.
The Horns didn't look excellent, but they looked better. This will be the signature road win of the season. No Big 12 team will be ranked in the top five this season and we play #3 Villanova at home. It is January and way too early to write off this team. If Texas continues to play defense and force turnovers like they did against the Tigers, they will beat just about any Big 12 team this season and challenge for the conference title.
Off to Pasadena. Hook Em! Beat SC!