Does anyone else think we just missed a major opportunity? We did not play well, but give tons of credit to LSU. For the second game in a row, their defense carried them.
1. Big Baby absolutely killed us.
This cannot be understated. He finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. His fall away jumper was deadly as was his top of the key three pointer. But for as many points as he scored, his defense was even more important. Davis was able to push Lamarcus Aldridge well away from the basket. LA once again was beaten up by a stronger and more physical big man. He shot fade away jumpers and hook shots and didn't take the ball to the basket once.
2. Tyrus Thomas owned the paint.
I thought we correctly settled into our 2-3 in the first half. The idea is to clog the paint and force the LSU guards to hit jump shots. The Tigers are terrible from behind the arc and rely heavily on the inside scoring of Thomas and Davis. The 2-3 was the best strategy. Unfortunately, our execution was terrible. We allowed Thomas to run the baseline unchecked and score on three monster baseline slams. Even when we played our staple zone, Thomas was still able to control the paint. When we were on offense, our paint presence was no better. Thomas was credited with just three blocks but altered almost every shot from the free throw line and in.
3. Lamarcus Aldridge was not good.
The invisible man showed up again. He allowed the defense to dictate his offensive moves instead of making the defense react to him. He did have 10 rebounds but none were significant in my mind. When the game got tight, PJ was our go to guy not Aldridge. He has tremendous potential (NBA word) but is not NBA ready right now. It will be interesting to see if he decides to turn pro.
Our manic behavior this season was our downfall. At times this season we were legitimately in the same conversation with Duke and Connecticut. At other times we looked like a team capable of losing to Kansas State or Oklahoma State. Even in this regional final, we were up and down. I thought with five minutes left in regulation the game was ours. LSU looked tired. We had stepped up our defense and just needed to hit a few shots down the stretch. Instead we escaped regulation and then came out flat and confused in overtime. The Tigers scored on their first three possessions of the second half aided up two Texas turnovers. Game over. Just when we looked to be headed to Indy, the wrong Texas team took the floor.
5. This was a very even game.
LSU made the plays in overtime but these were two evenly matched teams. Total rebounds 45-42 Texas. Turnovers: Texas 12, LSU 10. Points off turnovers: 21-17 LSU. Blocks: 7 each. Neither team had any significant bench production. Both teams have dominant frontlines and competent guards. Texas had a slight edge with our guards' outside shooting but LSU had an equally slight edge with their big men.
Texas finishes the season 30-7 and one step shy of a second Final Four. I thought going into the season that anything short of the FF would be an underachievement. I still think that. But it is hard to be too disappointed. We set a school record for wins. We went to the NCAA tournament for a record eighth straight year. We beat two #1 seeds that are both still playing for shots at the Final Four. We won the Big 12 regular season title. We made it to the Big 12 Tournament final game. We made the Elite Eight.
Aldridge may come back or he could easily turn pro. He is certainly not ready but if he would be a top 5 pick, then I say go cash your first check. PJ Tucker will be back as the reigning Big 12 player of the year. Daniel Gibson will be back and better adjusted to his shooting guard position. AJ Abrams will be back after a solid freshman campaign. DJ Augustin will be here this fall to run the point and Kevin Durant arrives as well as the second best high school player in the country.
I am disappointed. We underachieved slightly. But just writing that shows how far this program has come. The future remains bright in Austin.