Game Recap: Texas wins 77-50. We hit our early shots. We defended well. They did not hit their shots, early or ever. They did not defend well.
And there you have it. Oversimplified, but basically all you need to know. The defense is the real key, helping us not only in the obvious ways (keeping points off the board), but also incidentally, allowing our free-flowing to offense to - well, to flow a little easier. It's much easier to defend well after made baskets, and last night A&M didn't have many of those.
The outcome was: Perfect. No need to elaborate here. This was what we wanted.
Stat Of The Game #1: 12 blocks, Texas. Four from Damion and three more from the machine that is Connor Atchley. At some point during last night's telecast ESPN flashed a stat showing Atchley as the conference's top shot blocker; I'm not the least bit surprised.
Stat Of The Game #2: 1-14 3Pt FG, A&M. Remember when this was our achilles heel? Not lately, as Rick Barnes has done a nice job adjusting the way we help and the way we rotate to close out on shooters. This isn't just a matter of teams missing open shots; we're defending better.
The Offensive MVP was: DJ Augustin. No question about it this time around, as DJ erupted from his scoring slump with a 27 point, 9 assist, 3 turnover ball game. That's All American production. If we get that from DJ down the stretch, we have a fine chance of winning out the rest of the regular season.
The Defensive MVP was: Damion James. Think he was motivated by his lackluster showing in College Station? Me, too.
A Few More Things: 1. A note on AJ. Though Abrams didn't have a memorable night on offense, the key stat for me wasn't that he missed six of his eight shots, it's that he only took eight shots. It wasn't long ago when AJ was regularly shooting 12-15 times per game, whether he was getting good looks or not. He forced two shots early in the first half, but played within the offense the rest of the way. Defensively, he gave us his best effort of the season. That's how you justify 30+ minutes a game.
2. We're seeing frontcourt depth emerge. Now that Gary's looking comfortable out on the floor (8 points, 7 boards in 23 minutes), we're exhibiting some frontcourt depth that bodes well for the rest of the season. WingMan and Chappy are taking baby steps forward, but forward they go. And Dexy keeps flashing signs of being on the cusp of a big breakthrough. James and Atchley are critical, but being able to spell them some sure helps.
3. On the flipside, the guard depth remains a concern. The one thing you still have to worry about with this team is a game in which DJ Augustin gets in foul trouble. Mason's fine to run the point... so long as DJ's also out on the floor. We can survive with Abrams or Mason in foul trouble by going big, but Texas fans should tremble with fear if we find ourselves in a game in which DJ's on the bench due to foul trouble or injury.
NEXT GAME: Home vs. Oklahoma – Saturday 2/23 2:30 p.m. ABC