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Texas Cruises to Easy Victory, Beats TCU 66-48

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Texas handled TCU's highly regarded defense, while providing a forum for the Frog offense to shoot itself in the foot.

Isaiah Taylor played his best game since returning from injury.
Isaiah Taylor played his best game since returning from injury.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns controlled the contest from the very start. 58 seconds into the first half, the Longhorns grabbed the lead on an Isaiah Taylor jump shot, and never let TCU back into the game. Javan Felix led a balanced Texas effort with 15 points, while Isaiah Taylor scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished six assists.

The Texas defense conspired with TCU's shooters to hold the Horned Frogs to its worst offensive showing of the year. Trent Johnson's squad collected 48 points, which was a dismal 0.76 points per possession. Texas played the entire game in zone defense, mixing light full court pressure with its more traditional 2-3 and 1-1-3 zone looks, and TCU struggled to find good shots.

The Texas front line combined for nine blocked shots, closing off the paint for the Frogs. But Johnson's men only have themselves to blame for the atrocious 9-23 free throw shooting. It is not by accident that TCU is among the worst free throw shooting teams in the country.

Texas guard Isaiah Taylor played his best game since returning from injury, controlling the offense for Texas, taking points when they were there, and making plays for his teammates. His energy was noticeable from the start.

Perhaps the highlight play for Texas for the night came early in the first half when Taylor tore the ball away from a TCU player, and took off down the floor on a 2-1 break with Cameron Ridley.

Taylor passed to Ridley, who made an athletic and contested finish in transition. The speed with which Ridley runs the floor is one of his best attributes as a player. He is fast and violent in transition, but on this play he was something more. He was graceful.

Ridley kept the positive vibes going, finishing with 10 points to go along with his usual stout interior defense. For those who have wondered what was wrong with the Texas center this season, his last two games seem to answer the question with one word: nothing.

Javan Felix was efficient for Texas, driving into the paint for short floaters in addition to going 2-5 from three point range. While the whole Internet is seemingly obsessed with finding fault with Felix, tonight he played very well, giving Texas scoring while only turning the ball over once. The Internet will have to wait a few more days for another chance.

The game honestly could have been won by an even greater margin, but give TCU some credit for one thing that it did do well; Johnson's team held the Longhorns to one of their lowest offensive rebounding rates of the season.

Watching the game, I was struck by just how poorly the Frogs played. Coming into the game TCU sported one of the 15 best defenses in the nation, per kenpom.com. But tonight that defense just seemed a step slow.

The TCU defense typically works to limit opponent three point attempts, forcing shooters to bounce the ball, and then relies on its tall back line defenders to clean things up around the basket. This is a formula that has so far worked, as TCU opponents had only converted 42 percent of their shots at the rim coming into the game, which is the second lowest rate nationally, one spot behind Virginia and one ahead of Kentucky. Limiting threes and protecting the rim meant that coming into this game the TCU defense held opponents to the second lowest effective field goal percentage in the entire country. That put the TCU's eFG% defense one spot behind Kentucky and one in front of Texas in the national rankings. Ranked in important defensive categories among Kentucky, Virginia, and Texas shows that the TCU defense is not typically a pushover.

But TCU was hurt by dribble penetration all night. Despite the fact that the Horned Frogs have one of the better interior defenses in the country, they could not keep the Texas guards from scoring around the basket. The help defense was slow, perhaps because those same defenders were simultaneously trying to keep track of Ridley and Myles Turner.

The result was that Texas won rather easily against a team that is much better than it showed tonight.

It is entirely possible that the Horns are catching their second wind. If so, it couldn't come at a better time -- the Jayhawks come to Austin on Saturday.