The No. 12/14 Texas Longhorns opened Big 12 conference play in convincing fashion, with a 83-52 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock. The ‘Horns showed no signs of a hangover from the last second overtime loss to Connecticut last Saturday. Texas dominated the Red Raiders from start to finish, especially on the defensive end, and improved to 12-1 under Rick Barnes in conference openers.
Texas Tech, even with four senior starters, is clearly one of the four worst teams in the conference. However, credit goes to the Longhorns for dismantling the Tech on both ends of the floor.
On offense, Texas ran their new "Utah Jazz" oriented offense as well as they have all season. The offensive attack was based on five players playing together--screening for each other, moving without the ball, and actively looking for the open man. ‘Horn after ‘Horn got free on screens across the lane, give-and-go's, and back cuts without the ball. Because of the good team offense, Texas shot a scorching 55% for the game.
A special note on freshman Tristan Thompson. TT was an absolute beast in the post and was consistently carving out deep low post position. As active a scorer as he's been through the first half of the season, if there is one criticism of his offensive game it's that he allows defenders to push him off the low block and subsequently catches the ball with both feet outside the paint. Not tonight, though. TT did his work early in possessions and the Texas guards found him. Thompson had 20 points and six boards on the night.
Credit also goes to Dogus Balbay for his work on the offensive glass. The offensively limited Balbay snagged four offensive rebounds and used second looks and transition buckets to add nine points.
Jordan Hamilton added a quiet 16 points and seven boards, and Cory Joseph netted 15 points, including all three of the game's three-pointers. Gary Johnson also added nine points and 10 boards.
If the efficiency on offense wasn't impressive enough, the defense was even more dominant. Just like on the offensive end, it was a team effort. Texas Tech runs a difficult to defend motion offense. Bob and Pat Knight coached teams typically move well without the ball; they screen constantly; and usually get the ball to players in scoring positions. The motion offense is designed to create good looks with this movement and relies very little on one-on-one moves off the dribble.
Texas Tech attempted to run their motion offense tonight but failed miserably. Texas was all over the court and communicated on cuts and screens. When a ball screen or a back cut created a slight opening, a Texas defender was already there on help defense. Tech shot just 39% overall. I don't want to get too over the top considering the competition, but that was as good a team defensive performance as I've seen this year.
Over than a allowing a few offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes, Texas dominated the glass (42-23). The Horns also found the Tech shooters and held the Red Raiders without a three-pointer (0-for-11) on the night. Last, Texas played defense without fouling. Tech went to the line just 10 times, to 35 attempts by the Longhorns.
I left the Drum on Saturday afternoon frustrated. It was not just that the ‘Horns lost; it was that Texas was so much better than they showed. Albeit against much weaker competition, Texas showed its stuff in Lubbock. The Longhorns played outstanding team basketball on both ends and dominated from start to finish. With efficiency like that, Texas is going to be tough to beat.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma Saturday, January 15 3 PM Big 12 Network