Well, as Ron Burgundy says:
"Ahhhh San Diego, soak it in."
While we begin our postseason run to the Final Four on Friday against either Iowa State or Oklahoma for the next couple days I'm just going to soak in the regular season's ultimate prize, a regular season Championship. Yesterday was the best game I've seen all year, it was back and forth throughout the entire second half and even when Texas made a bajillion shots in a row, I never had a feeling we were going to lose. I knew it would be close, but never thought we wouldn't leave with a W. All of our players played well at least for parts of the game, but the star of the game was without a doubt the ever-improving Julian Wright. His 17 points and 13 rebounds led us to victory along with the game-clinching block on D.J. Augustin's potential game-tying 3 pointer with around 10 seconds left. How good did everyone else do? Let's take a look.
As previously noted, Wright played fantastic basketball all game yesterday. He didn't play as good of defense on Do-Rant as Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur, but that was also when he could have hit it from anywhere on the court so who knows whether it was his defense or Do-Rant's amazing talent. Whenever we needed a basket we always gave it to Julian on the wing or the foul line and let him create a shot. His mid-range jump shot is much better than his Freshman season and the fact that we can depend on it regularly is a huge part of our offense. He is also our most consistent rebounder, grabbing 13 HUGE rebounds where our 10 rebound margin was a big reason why we won.
As good as Julian played, Super might have played even better. He was every bit as hot in the second half as A.J. Abrams was in the first, knocking down all 5 of his 3 point attempts and shooting 7-9 overall. He scord a team-high 21 points along with 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He is our most consistent free throw shooter and only was 2-4 there today as we shot a paltry 54% as a team. The biggest thing we need to work on for the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments is free throw shooting, when the games get close it is vitally important to make your free throws and I would hate to lose a game on freebies.
After getting me on a rant for his performance Monday night against Boomer Sooner and forgetting how to catch the basketball early on yesterday, Brandon played a pretty good game. He played good defense on Do-Rant in the second half and was a big part why he started missing shots. He also put a stronghold on the game with his dunk with about 1:30 left in the game that, along with a few made free throws and Julian's block, shoot the door on the Longhorns. He scored 15 points and pulled down 7 rebounds, something he does very well for his size. Even though it seemed he couldn't hit a 3 pointer he shot 50% from behind the arc, which does seem like he can't hit compared to Do-Rant's 6-8 mark and Super's 5-5.
Russell had a traditional RR game, make open shots (5-9 including 3-4 behind the arc), manage the offense (2 assists) and don't make mistakes (2 turnovers). Russell makes our offense much more dangerous when he makes his open shots, especially from the 3 point line. He is our 5th option on offense and if they can use his defender to help out on Julian or Super they can't do what they do best. Russell's 17 was hugely important in yesterday's game and his defense was very good as well.
Is it me or is Sasha always a big part of our offense at the beginning of both the first and second halves, but doesn't come back in the game for forever. His And-1 early in the second half got the crowd 100% into it and put us ahead (if I remember correctly) for the first time in a long time. His 9 points and 5 rebounds, while not gaudy numbers, were important especially considering he only played 19 minutes.
Arthur played the best defense on anybody against Do-Rant, holding him to 0-4 (by my count) including when he injured his ankle. I think he should have played defense a little more against Do-Rant but even when he wasn't on Do-Rant he always seemed to be near by helping out Rush. His offense left plenty to be desired, shooting 3-7 from the floor and 1-4 from the charity stripe scoring only 7 points in 19 minutes. He also only pulled down 2 rebounds, so while he didn't stick out as a bad player he definately didn't have his best game.
Like DA, didn't stick out as playing bad but yesterday wasn't his best effort. He played decent defense and drove into the lane a couple times and dished it out for 5 assists but he also had his second straight game with a goose egg scoring wise. He is much better when coming off the bench and has to re-adjust to that role after starting two games. Give him a couple games in the Big 12 Tourny and he'll be fine come Tournament time. He seems to be forcing his shot on the outside and our team in general doesn't do that often, he needs to let the shots come to him in the flow of the offense. If he did that I think he would make some more shots.
DJack only played 8 minutes and while he was 0-2 from the free throw line was perfect from the floor (2-2). He pulled down 2 rebounds as well and played some good defense down low against Atchley and Co. A decent game for DJack all in all, what we should probably expect to be the minimum we will get from the all-hustle Jackson.
Rodrick only played 2 quick minutes, even playing some defense on Do-Rant before we decided on Rush for good. He didn't shoot a shot, didn't grab a rebound, didn't dish out an assist, didn't turn the ball over, didn't do much of anything 'cept play defense. An incomplete sample from Rodrick, hopefully he can deliver some decent minutes if we need him in the NCAA's though.
While some Texas fans are claiming that depth was the difference in the game, I'm not so sure. While I do agree it was part of the reason why we won, I wouldn't say it was the 'difference' in the game. We played our starters more than usual yesterday so the bench minute totals looked like this:
That is a bigger margin than it initally looked like, it is still less of one than I expected going into the game.
No matter how you slice it, we are Big 12 Regular Season Champions! ENJOY IT!