AUSTIN, Texas – Here's a rundown with my notes, quotes and highlights from the Texas Longhorns' 67-64 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in front of 6,438 fans at the Erwin Center on Saturday night.
Isaiah Taylor scored a team-high 14 points in the win.
How the Longhorns (12-4, 1-2) Won:
Amidst a flurry of fouls, bad execution on the offensive end, horrific defense in stretches, untimely mistakes and a near collapse, Rick Barnes' team simply found a way to win the game at the end. Texas as a team had ten fouls in the first half and even though the Red Raiders were just 10-of-25 from the floor over the first 30 minutes, 11 made free throws allowed Tech to snag a 33-32 halftime lead. It was the foul line, where Texas was 13-for-15 in the second half, that helped make the difference in the second half. Had it not been for free throws, the Longhorns would have blown a five-point lead with 3:30 to play.
How the Red Raiders (8-8, 0-3) Lost:
Tech was able to move the ball crisply on offense, which resulted in some clean looks at the basket and some noticeably bad lapses by Texas on the defensive end. The Red Raiders did their part to keep the game close. At the end of the day, Tech did everything it possibly could have wanted to do except hit an open look at the basket in the waining seconds to win the game.
Goes to Isaiah Taylor. It felt like he played more within himself and wasn't pressing like he'd seemed to be doing over the first two Big 12 games. A tough layup early in the game seemed to get him going and a floater right before the halftime horn was the highlight of a 14-point, five-assist performance. Taylor has been averaging over four turnovers per game through two Big 12 games and had just two on Saturday.
It Was Over When...
Texas Tech's Jaye Crockett missed an open look in the closing seconds. Prince Ibeh blocked a jumper on the initial trip down the floor but the Red Raiders got the ball back and called timeout with 8.7 seconds left in the game. Crockett got an open look at the basket on the ensuing in-bounds, but his jumper from just inside the left wing drew nothing but iron. Johnathan Holmes grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws for the final cushion.
To Damarcus Croaker and Martez Walker. Croaker only logged 12 minutes but he continues to be the one guy on the floor who can consistently create his own shot and knock it down. He had eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including a three-pointer and a two-handed dunk in the open court. Walker played 16 minutes in his first career start and only scored two points, but he had a great assist to Cameron Ridley for dunk down the middle of the lane and a slam of his own when he put the ball on the deck and attacked the rim.
To fouls early. As I mentioned, the Longhorns had ten team fouls in the first half. Tech was in the bonus before the ten-minute mark of the first half. Players after the game admitted that at times the Longhorns get lazy, and from it sounds like frustrated, when teams grind the ball down to the latter seconds of the shot clock and get long possessions. That needs to stop. Holmes has been on the bench in foul trouble early in every Big 12 game so far as he, Ridley, Ibeh, Demarcus Holland and Connor Lammert were all in foul trouble by halftime. Of those players, only Ibeh played double-digit minutes over the first 30.
Was Cameron Ridley at the free throw line. The big man shot 6-for-8 at the charity stripe, but he went to the line and knocked down two critical foul shots with 33 seconds to play. Those two free throws put Texas ahead, 65-64, which put the pressure on Tech to go win the game on its final posession.
Was the lack of effort and execution on the defensive end. Those two things kept the Red Raiders in the game and kept Texas being the 8-ball most of the night. The defensive lapses led to easy buckets for Tech and too many fouls by the Longhorns.
Stat(s) of the Night:
Texas shot just 3-for-12 from the three-point line, including 0-for-6 in the second half... Javan Felix shot just 1-for-6 from behind the arc... Texas had just eight free throw attempts in the first half compared to 18 for Tech... Despite a significant advantage in the paint, Texas was even with Texas Tech on the offensive glass in the first half (six each) and had six second-chance points... Demarcus Holland didn't score in 16 minutes of action... Prince Ibeh had eight points, eight boards and two blocks in 21 minutes of play... Texas is now 30-3 under Rick Barnes against Tech all-time... With a 32-24 rebounding edge, Texas has rebounded 13 of 16 opponents this season... Texas held a 34-12 edge in bench points... Texas made its last eight free throws and shot a season-best 85.7 percent at the line (18-for-21).
Story of the Night:
The Longhorns led by five with 3:30 to go but saw that lead evaporate when Tech's Robert Turner hit two free throws to put the Red Raiders ahead, 64-63. Thanks to a gritty play by Ridley, the Longhorns were able to hang on and win a game that otherwise would have gone down as a crippling loss. Texas has a tough one Monday night on the road against West Virginia, but that's the kind of game Texas needs to steal if it wants to be in the conversation come March for an at-large bid. This team is playing below average on the defensive end, which has to improve because outside of Croaker and the occasional hot night by Felix or Holmes, there's nothing coming consistently enough on the offensive end for the Longhorns to win the games they'll need to win in Big 12 play.
Rick Barnes on the win:
“I wouldn't call it a relief. I think we have the best conference in the country. I expected this game to be this way and we made some plays.”
Barnes on what he liked and didn't like:
“I thought I stayed in the zone [defense] too long. We were worried about the matchup and, obviously, foul trouble. They made a couple of really tough shots. We did a really good job rebounding out of the zone. We had to go with a four-guard lineup. We can't even practice with a four-guard lineup. We went with a big lineup and we gave ourselves a chance because our guys stayed in the game.”
Isaiah Taylor on his performance:
“Going into conference play everybody know my strengths, my weaknesses, and a lot of teams pack it in now because they know that I want to penetrate. I've been going over it with Coach Barnes and the rest of the staff to work on penetrating the zone and where to find the seams in the defense. I've been working on that and it's helped me..”
Javan Felix on defending the final shot:
“Really, I just wanted to contest the shot and as I turned around I was looking at the ball and hoping it didn't go in.”
Felix on why the Longhorns are in foul trouble:
“That's definitely something we went over in practice and that we worked on. It's always in our scouting report every game, to not foul and to not give them the points at the line. The last three games we've done a terrible job of that and starting off tonight it looked like it was going to go that way again. But Coach got on us at halftime and we fixed it.”
Cameron Ridley on his confidence at the free throw line at the end of the game:
“I would have liked to finish the shot. But during the offseason, when I built that confidence, I'm more than happy to go to the line since I'm making them.”
Ridley on the win:
“It finally brings a good mood to the locker room. Nobody is going to be as depressed anymore thinking it's going to be like last year. That was a good win.”
Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith on the loss:
“We've had a few of these games where we haven't found a way to win. Texas did. Texas is young. Rick has them playing his style of ball. They like to push it. They're athletic. Their big men were impressive. We gave a great effort again, but we've got to find a way to finish these games.”