Team Texas Report – Getting Inside
Texas is ready for an epic Big 12 championship game.
The second-seeded Longhorns will take on top-seeded Kansas on Saturday in Kansas City for the conference tournament title.
The teams played a defining game of the college basketball regular season when Texas ended the Jayhawks 69-game home winning streak with a 74-63 win in Lawrence on Jan. 22.
Can Texas (27-6) do it again?
This could be like another home game for Kansas, which has had plenty of fans in the stands at the Sprint Center.
“It would mean a lot to us if we could just win, but I know it’s going to be hard,” said guard J’Covan Brown. “Kansas is probably upset about what happened at their place, so they’re going to come out and just try to fight a whole lot, try and out-rebound us and everything.”
Brown had a team-high 23 points off the bench in the earlier meeting against Kansas, which overcame the Jayhawks’ big and talented front line by out-rebounding the Jayhawks, 42-33.
“I think they’re a great team,” sophomore forward Jordan Hamilton said of Kansas. “It’s going to be like a home game for them. They’re going to have their fans and they’re going to come out hyped up.”
But Texas will be, too. A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament could hang in the balance.
Beyond The Box Score: Pressure? What pressure? Freshman forward Tristan Thompson isn’t backing down as the games get more important, and he came up with 14 points and 13 rebounds in the Big 12 tournament semifinals against Texas A&M. Amazingly, 10 of those rebounds came on the offensive end. Coach Rick Barnes sees a kid unfazed by it all. “Actually, I told him before the game, ‘You know, when I watch you play, you can tell you get lost in the game. You have fun,’” Barnes said. “He loves playing. And you can tell that about him when he’s out there. And he does it in practice; he’s had a terrific year.
• Sophomore F Jordan Hamilton had a team-high 17 points in the Big 12 tournament semifinals as Texas beat Texas A&M, 70-58, the Longhorns’ third victory over their state rivals this season. The Aggies climbed within four points with five minutes left, but Hamilton nailed a 3-pointer that propelled Texas to victory.
• Texas held Texas A&M to 35.4 percent shooting (17-of-48), which marked the 22nd time in 33 games that a Longhorns’ opponent shot under 40 percent.
• Freshman F Tristan Thompson has posted four career double-doubles and is averaging 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his past six games.
• Sophomore F Jordan Hamilton and freshman F Tristan Thompson each had double-doubles as Texas had an easy time beating Oklahoma 74-54 in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday night. Hamilton had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Thompson posted 13 and 11. The Longhorns led 43-20 at halftime and had a plus-16 rebounding edge.
• So much for the red River Rivalry this season. Texas swept three games from Oklahoma this season, holding the Sooners to an average of 50.7 points. OU shot 9 of 41 (21.9 percent) from 3-point range in those three games.
• Rebounding is a key factor behind any success Texas enjoys. The Longhorns ranked first during Big 12 play with an average of 38.9 rebounds in league games. G Jordan Hamilton led the league with 8.1 rebounds on average in conference play, including a league-best of 6.1 defensive rebounds. C Tristan Thompson ranked as the top rebounder in league play on the offensive end, where he averaged 3.5 boards.
• The 13.1-point average margin Texas posted was tops in Big 12 play. The Longhorns started 11-0, with just one of those outcomes decided by single digits. However, they lost three of their last five league games, and the 60-54 win at Baylor on March 5 was the second single-digit margin against the Bears.
By The Numbers: 11—First-round byes obtained by Texas over the 15-year history of the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns enter as the No. 2 seed this season. No team that failed to gain a first-round bye has ever won the event.
Quote To Note: “The last couple of games my shot has just been dead, and I just knew that I didn’t want to lose (at Baylor). Especially for our seniors, this is such a big rivalry. I just told myself that I had to go out there and make something happen.”—Texas G Jordan Hamilton on posting 14 points against the Bears, but making just 6 of 17 shots.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
• vs. Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game, March 12
Postseason Outlook: A tournament title, something Texas has never achieved since the Big 12 was formed, would go a long ways to giving the Longhorns a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Defense and rebounding are key. Texas is as good as any team in the league at both those qualities, which can carry the Longhorns a long way in the postseason, particularly with insightful scouting reports.
• F Tristan Thompson isn’t hitting a freshman wall. Either that, or he busted right through it. In his past five games, Thompson is averaging 18.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
• Sophomore G J’Covan Brown ranked as the highest-scoring player without a start in the Big 12 this season with a 9.3-point average. Brown has three 20-point outings but was limited to two points against Baylor.