Longhorns Fielding Elite Defense

Texas has one of the country's elite defenses early on in the 2012-2013 season, but the Longhorns have accomplished that feat despite spending most practice time elsewhere.

"We've probably spent less time defensively believe it or not, with this group than we have with most teams at this point," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "Because we know with a young group of guys, you've got to teach them how to play offense, and it's hard to do.

"If you go back and look, after we've played six games, I'm shocked at our field goal percentage defense," Barnes said. "That's where length and some of those things help."

The Longhorns' opponents are shooting just 30.9 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from behind the three-point arc. And it isn't hard to figure out why.

Four players are averaging more than a block per game, with 6-foot-9 Cameron Ridley (15 blocks) and 6-10 Prince Ibeh (10) as the primary culprits. Jonathan Holmes, a 6-7 power forward, and Ioannis Papapetrou, a 6-8 small forward, each have eight in six games.

The Longhorns are eighth in the country in blocks and fifth nationally in block rate. And that doesn't count the number of shots that Texas bothers as a team. Texas's length has the Longhorns first in field goal percentage defense, and they're 13th national in three-point field goal defense.

Of course, great shot defense typically equals great defense overall, and Texas is 10th nationally in points allowed per possession, and fifth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. The latter stat is especially interesting, as (and yes, I know it's early) it would put Texas's defense up with the best units fielded by Barnes in the last 10 years.

Despite Barnes's reputation as a defense-first coach, the Longhorns have finished in the top-10 nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency four times over the last 10 seasons. Texas has accomplished that same feat on the defensive side just twice, in 2005-2006 and 2010-2011. In 2006, Texas had both Lamarcus Aldridge and Brad Buckman blocking around two shots per game. And in 2011, the Longhorns had a high-level shot-blocker in Tristan Thompson, who swatted 2.4 shots per game in his lone season on campus.

At 2.5 blocks per contest, Ridley is even slightly above that pace, and with Ibeh (1.7), Holmes and Papapetrou (1.3 apiece) also making their length felt, Texas could be a nightmare to shoot over all season … even if the team continues to devote most of its time to offense.

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