In a rare Sunday game for the No. 17 Texas Longhorns, Chris Beard’s squad took the floor against the Stanford Cardinal, defending their way to an 60-53 win to improve to 8-2.
Here are a few initial thoughts from the action.
Texas’ offense remains an issue. The Longhorns entered the game with an offense that ranked second-to-last nationally in tempo, ahead of only Virginia — this, despite Beard’s desire to see his team play faster. Beyond that, Texas is just struggling to find guys who can hit shots, much less doing so consistently. On Sunday, in particular, Texas made just 4-of-16 threes, and if you exclude Courtney Ramey’s two makes on two attempts, the rest of the team was just 2-of-14. That’s, umm, not good. Overall, the guards don’t seem capable of beating defenders off the dribble, which is significant in an offense that’s already remarkably slow, and the forwards are making a habit of dribbling into traffic without any decisive offensive action in mind, which just lets to turnovers, bad shots, or kicking back out to a guard. Rinse, repeat. Texas’ defense won them this game with 22 forced turnovers, but just as it did against Seton Hall, this offense is gonna lose the Longhorns some games unless Beard and his staff can make some major tweaks immediately.
If all else fails, Texas is going to draw some charges. By my non-official count, Texas baited Stanford into five charges on Sunday — three from Timmy Allen, one from Devin Askew, and another from Andrew Jones. Drawing charges has been an emphasis under Beard’s staff, and his group continues to excel and forcing those turnovers around the rim. They were a factor on Sunday, and it’s safe to expect that to continue going forward.
I’m a bit skeptical of this team’s potential with Big 12 play right around the corner. Texas has plenty of good players, and that’s evident at times when they’re in sync on both ends of the floor and suddenly in control, as they were leading by 15 entering the under-12 media timeout. But on the other hand, there are more spurts of uninspiring basketball where Texas’ snail pace is bogged down even further by an inability to make shots, and the lack of elite size or athleticism sees the Horns struggle on the glass. The competition level is about to increase in Big 12 play, and it will remain that way nearly every time out. This is a good team, but it’s not the great team it was projected to be entering the season, and that could become an issue against No. 1 Baylor, No. 7 Kansas, No. 11 Iowa State, and other dangerous teams like No. 25 Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU, and Oklahoma.
Bill Walton was on the call. So, how many watched the game on mute? For those who didn’t, what non-basketball tidbit did you learn from Walton’s rambling?