Three Things for Texas Basketball

The Longhorn basketball squad faces a tough string of games. Here are three things Texas needs to improve to fare well in those match-ups, starting today with North Carolina.

1) Find a way to get Jordan Hamilton more involved in the offense

In Texas's first five games, Hamilton was one of the most efficient players in the country, scoring 24.6 points per game, shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 46.4 percent from behind the three-point line. Ever since, Hamilton has struggled to get off track. He's taken 13 fewer shots (about 2.6 shots per game) over the last five games and has been less efficient with the shots he has taken. His scoring average over those games has plummeted to 13.2 points per game, while he's shooting just 34.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range. Not surprisingly, Texas was a more efficient offense when Hamilton's offense was successful. For the Longhorns to come out of this tough string with some wins under their belt, they'll need Hamilton to be at his best.

2) Work the high-low against the zone more effectively

It isn't a secret that the Longhorns have struggled against the zone this year, especially zones that sag down low, taking away driving lanes and baskets for Tristan Thompson. The Longhorns have often taken the easy way out, jacking up three-point shots rather than searching for higher-percentage looks. But the Longhorns are actually equipped to deal with zones from a more traditional way. Forward Gary Johnson has shown a consistent mid-range jumper and increased confidence from that range. Over the last two games, he's scored 31 points on 10-18 shooting. If he can continue to hit those shots, not only will it open up more, and better three-pointers, but it will also give Thompson more opportunities to work inside. He's struggled against packed-in zones, but showed that he can be tough to handle when he gets ideal match-ups down low, averaging 15.5 points per game and shooting 63.2 percent from the field in New York against Illinois and Pittsburgh.

3) Eliminate fast-break opportunities

The Longhorns have shown an ability to defend in the halfcourt this year, but have struggled at times to generate consistent offense. That means they'll need to keep opposing offenses from getting second looks on the offensive glass and from getting easy baskets on the fast break. Teams like Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut have all show the athletes to create easy baskets in fast-break situations. Eliminating, or at least limiting, those easy chances would go a long way in helping Texas's halfcourt defense while limiting pressure on the Longhorn offense.

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