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Sunday Thoughts from Reliant

I just got back from Houston and wanted to add a few thoughts of my own. PB has already done an excellent job of breaking down the game and reasons why we lost. I’ll try not to overlap on what he’s already mentioned.

This morning I sat down with my girlfriend at a bagel shop and picked up the Houston Chronicle. I started to read the article previewing the game and became deeply concerned. The quotes from the Texas players were very disturbing. Coach Calipari predicted that an up and down game would lead to a final score of 106-102. The Texas players were asked about his comments.

Texas' Connor Atchley didn't hesitate. "106-102?" he said. "I think that would be a blast.
"I think you can erase the shot clock, because I don't think any of us are going to need it," Texas junior guard A.J. Abrams said.
"We love to run. That's our game," UT's Damion James said. "We want to make our game similar to the Phoenix Suns. Our philosophy is to try to score in five seconds."

Huh? Was this really going to be our strategy? Surely, the players were just shooting off at the mouth. Right? Coach Barnes would definitely have the Longhorns play a more controlled game that plays to our strengths and not to those of the Tigers. Right?

I thought Texas needed to play a game in the 60’s. I thought they needed to run their half-court offense for 30+ seconds. I thought they needed to do everything possible to eliminate the Memphis fastbreak and make the Tigers score in the half-court. After reading these comments, though, I was very scared.

I knew heading into the stadium that Texas needed to play a near perfect game and hopefully have Memphis get into some foul trouble, be uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, or be ice cold from the floor to come out victorious. From the opening tip, things didn’t go the way of the Longhorns. Turnovers, easy fast breaks, quick shots, and the man-to-man defense quickly led to a double digit deficit from which Texas could never recover. Texas did eventually go to a 2-3 zone, play at a more deliberate pace, and really protected the ball well in the second half, but against a team as good as Memphis, it was too late.

If Texas starts in zone or plays a half-court game or does a better job of protecting the ball, the game is definitely closer but the outcome is probably the same. Memphis is just really, really good.

I wear burnt orange tinted glass just like all of you most of the time. But those of you commenting or thinking that the better team lost today weren’t at Reliant Stadium. Memphis was clearly the better team. They are quicker, longer, deeper, more athletic, more efficient, and definitely a better team. I am sad to report that in person, it wasn’t even close.