Scott Cross is arguably a bad call away from taking down another major conference opponent on the road. After winning at both Ohio State and Memphis, UT-Arlington could have beaten the Longhorns as well
A Kevin Hervey three in the first half was somehow ruled a two by the officials. And the game eventually went to overtime. You do the math.
UT-Arlington couldn't hit a bull, or water, or the side of a barn, but did enough else well to give a lackluster Texas Longhorns squad all that it could handle.
But the Longhorn prevailed in overtime, finally breaking the game open when Isaiah Taylor found Connor Lammert for a three, and a possession later Eric Davis dropped another three ball from the corner.
Here was what we said during the game preview:
Keep an eye on turnovers and Texas' three point shooting percentage. If both of these numbers break in favor of the Horns, then Texas should be fine.
If they don't, then the last five minutes could end up being more exciting than desired.
During the first half, this prediction more or less held to form. Texas was sloppy with the basketball against the token pressure of the Mavericks, and the Longhorns struggled to connect on the open threes that Scott Cross' defense typically concedes.
One thing that I didn't emphasize as much as I should have during that preview is that UTA is a really good offensive rebounding team, and Texas has not done well so far on the defensive glass. Texas took better care of the ball in the second half, and shot better, but UTA kept in the game by grabbing 21 offensive rebounds. That is not a good sign for Texas, and it almost lost the game.
Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix led the way for Texas, scoring 21 and 18 points respectively. No other Longhorns were in double figures as Texas struggled against UTA's tough sagging defense that collapsed on Texas center Cameron Ridley every time the ball went inside.
UTA's do everything forward Kevin Hervey... did everything. He wasn't particularly efficient shooting, but he scored 15 points (and it should have been 16), pulled down 15 rebounds (this is an impressive feat in itself), and dropped three assists. Those are the kind of numbers you get from a 6-7 sophomore with a face up offensive game and a perimeter shot who plays his ass off. I am a fan.
- There aren't a lot of things that Texas is doing well right now. I don't know what the strength of this team is, aside from Isaiah Taylor's ability to jackhammer his way to the rim, no matter what the defense throws in front of him.
- UTA does some very particular things on defense that give Texas trouble. The Mavericks collapse into the paint, overloading the defense on the strong side. And then they aggressively double team the low post, which tends to give Cameron Ridley trouble. The solution for an offense to attack this sort of defense is ball reversal, which is something that Texas didn't do very often. When the Longhorns did, like midway in the second half when Taylor received the ball on the weak side of the floor and attacked an exposed defense off the dribble, good things happened.
- What the heck happened to Prince Ibeh over the summer. He is better than this. Last season, he was an impact player for Texas, occasionally saving games down the stretch with his defense -- his game against Baylor being the most memorable example. This year, he just looks lost. It is hard to imagine the Prince Ibeh we see out there right now switching onto a point guard after a screen and shutting him down.
- While the UTA press didn't turn the Longhorns over much down the stretch in the second half, it did consume valuable seconds of the now shorter shot clock. Late in the game Texas struggled to get into its offensive sets, frequently starting to run some actual offense with only 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Taylor and Felix bailed the offense out a few times late in the game in what were otherwise aimless offensive trips.
- The basic operating theory of Shaka Smart's offense is to run some offensive action that eventually evolves into a ball screen with the floor spaced. Right now something just seems off with the timing and execution. (Some of what was off tonight was due to the Maverick defense, which is really good.)
- And finally, we have Kerwin Roach, who is already challenging Kris Clack and Ivan Wagner for the title of best in-game dunker in the last 20 year of Texas basketball. Check out this one, where he amazingly takes off from about ten feet away from the basket, goes over a defender, and throws the ball through the hoop while he is still traveling up. God gave more to some then others, that is for sure.