The No. 13 Longhorns (12-5, 6-4) entered the win column at Kansas State (5-15, 1-11) tonight following three-straight losses. But they didn’t leave Manhattan, Kansas without flirting with disaster. Here are 10 postgame thoughts on UT’s 80-77 victory:
(Note: The official live stats feed was messed up all game, and still isn’t correct. So, I’m limited in what stats I have available to me.)
1) During this time of the year, a win is a win especially on the road in the Big 12. Even the really, really ugly ones still count under the win column on the sheet. After missing an open dunk attempt off a Kansas State turnover, which would have put Texas ahead 76-70 and was followed by a KSU three, Matt Coleman went a perfect four-of-four at the free throw line to preserve the win. Texas, wisely, fouled Kansas State with 5.1 seconds with a three-point lead and Coleman’s performance during the final seconds at the free throw line rewarded the strategy.
Blowing a 17-point lead against one of the worst Big 12 teams of recent memory is hardly ever pretty, but a win is much better than the alternative.2) But let’s be honest about tonight. While the Longhorns did find a way – despite trying to hand an 1-11 Big 12 team its first win since December, a two-point win over powerhouse Nebraska-Omaha – to win, much of tonight didn’t help alleviate growing concerns about the trajectory of the team in the midst of a regular season-defining stretch of basketball. We’ll get to some discussion about the offense and defense, but something became very obvious during tonight’s uneven game: the Longhorns need to learn how to win again.
“That’s a great point. I think we are learning how to win again,” responded Smart about the team in some ways learning how to win again together.
Texas hasn’t played close to a solid performance on both ends of the floor since its last-second loss to Texas Tech. Since then, the Longhorns, adjusting to personnel changes, a brief head coaching change, and lost practice and game time because of a long battle with COVID terrorizing the program, haven’t played close to a solid full game. And they haven’t been good on both ends of the floor at the same time.
In many ways, tonight looked like a December team figuring out what’s required to blow out a bad team when the opportunity arises.
3) Offensively, nothing really changed schematically with Texas. It simply played with much better pace both in the half-court and in transition. The improved pace and confidence help spark a terrific shooting night. Make no mistake, Texas did generate much better looks consistently tonight. Part of that is Kansas State, who often threw a soft zone at Texas, being terrible on defense. However, part of it was the Longhorns doing what they aim to do better – play with pace, aggressiveness and confidence…
READ THE REST OF THIS POSTGAME COLUMN AND DISCUSS TEXAS BASKETBALL INSIDE THE 40 ACRES (PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS)