The Texas Longhorns picked up an important home win tonight, defeating TCU by 23 points. Texas controlled the game from virtually the very start, claiming the lead in the first four minutes of the game, and never giving it back.
For Rick Barnes, it was the 600th victory of his 21 year head coaching career. The first one came on December 5, 1987, when his George Mason Patriots beat Wichita State 94-93.
But this 600th victory wouldn't be nearly as close. The Longhorns pulled comfortably in front of the Horned Frogs in the first half, propelled by solid three point shooting. TCU played most of the game in a 2-3 zone, daring Texas to shoot, and Kendal Yancy and Javan Felix accepted the dare, combining to connect on six of Texas' seven made threes on the night.
As well as Felix and Yancy played, scoring 16 and 12 points respectively, Cameron Ridley was the best player on the floor. Ridley was exceptional at both ends, getting deep post position on offense which helped him to shoot 4-7 from the floor and earn 13 trips to the free throw line. And Ridley dominated the game defensively, blocking four shots and pulling down ten defensive rebounds. The result was a 15 point, 12 rebound performance.
In the first half Ridley nearly destroyed the Erwin Center.
You can almost see the fear in him in that video, when he briefly considered that the backboard might possibly fall on top of him.
TCU made a run at Texas early in the second half, switching out of its zone defense into a man-to-man, and for a few minutes Texas had difficultly adjusting to the increased pressure that Trent Johnson's squad was applying on the perimeter. The Longhorn's lead was cut for a short while to single digits.
But finally Texas did adjust, and with a little more than eight minutes remaining, good ball movement led to an aggressive Cameron Ridley dunk, and the TCU rally was finished. The Frogs would score only four more times the rest of the game.
- TCU had a really hard time scoring. The Frogs were 15-52 from the floor and hit 8-16 from the free throw line. Some credit goes to the Texas defense, but TCU missed plenty of point blank shots at the rim. I can't tell right after this game if this is an example of defensive improvement by Texas, or just poor play by an opponent. It might be some of both.
- The Texas offense, on the other hand, was pretty good. The Horns scored 1.11 points per possession; the low final score reflected the pace of play, and not the performance of the Texas O. TCU played plenty of zone -- this seems to be a popular approach against Texas -- but the Longhorns made the Frogs pay. Texas hit shots from beyond the arc, and the Horns were able to penetrate into the interior of the defense as well.
- Connor Lammert logged 28 quality minutes. He didn't score very much, but he made solid decisions on offense that helped Texas slice up the TCU zone.
- When TCU switched to man-to-man defense, Texas again went with a Dick Bennett-style motion offense that it unleashed heavily during Saturday's win against Kansas State. I like this look a lot, and hope Rick Barnes sticks with it. The Horns even played this way for a few possessions with three big men on the floor, putting Lammert in motion out on the perimeter with Texas' two guards.
- 600 wins is a lot. We tip our metaphorical hats to Rick Barnes, who couldn't have had any idea where his career was headed back in December of 1987.