For a Longhorn team (19-12, 9-9 Big 12) scrapping for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Wangmene's injury couldn't have come at a worse time. Statistically, Wangmene's absence doesn't appear to be a back-breaker. The senior averaged 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. But basketball is played on a court, not in a calculator, and Wangmene's impact goes beyond his statistical one.
Wangmene started 26 games, and played the most minutes (barely) of the Texas big men for a reason: at times, he served as one of the top defensive big men in the league. Just look at his impact against Kansas. On paper, Thomas Robinson should have shredded through Wangmene. But the senior, who also excelled in grabbing a combined 22 rebounds in physical contests versus Kansas State, bothered the National Player of the Year candidate, holding him to 3-of-10 shooting and seven points in slightly more than a half of work. With Wangmene out for the second half, Robinson scored 18 second-stanza points in leading Kansas to a double-digit win.
Wangmene might not be the go-to scorer you like to have in the post. He isn't a great shot-blocker, blocking less than a shot per game. And he isn't necessarily always a great rebounder, because he struggles at times to catch the ball. But the thing that he had, that Texas needed from that spot, was toughness. Wangmene could body up on some of the Big 12's more physical big men and force them to work for everything they got.
Now, it's likely that more of Wangmene's minutes will go to Jaylen Bond, a player of similar size, but of less court awareness and savvy. Jonathan Holmes will also be asked to pick up more minutes at the four, but Holmes has a tendency to get into foul trouble, and isn't yet the physical defender Wangmene is.
With a game looming against Royce White and Iowa State, and potentially a later contest against Missouri, and the Longhorns fighting to get off the bubble and into the NCAAs, Wangmene's absence will likely be missed.