Texas Basketball, By the Numbers

Longhorn Digest takes a look at Texas's still-elite defense and potentially emerging Longhorn freshmen.

Longhorn defense still showing out

Per KenPom, Texas has the nation's sixth-rated defense in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. And Texas has done that despite ranking 223rd nationally in turnover percentage. It isn't any secret how the Longhorns have done that. Texas ranks first nationally in Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%), with opponents shooting just 37.3 percent on their two-point attempts (eighth nationally) and 21.9 percent on their three-point attempts (third).

And Texas has done it while challenging shots (eighth nationally in block rate) while largely not fouling. The Longhorns are a respectable 75th in free throw attempts per field goal attempts.

Of course as good as the defense has been, the offense has been almost as bad. Texas is 172nd nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, which is amazing considering Texas is 252nd in eFG% and 331st in turnover percentage. But there might be one positive emerging on that side, and that is …

Cameron Ridley coming on?

As we've seen, the competition level for Texas ramped up considerably when the Longhorns played Georgetown and UCLA, by far the two best teams Texas has played this season.*

* Per KenPom, Georgetown was Texas's toughest opponent to date, ranking 28th. UCLA was second at 37th. And UT Arlington was third at 116th. Here's the scary part: Of the remaining games on Texas's schedule, only six are against teams ranked worse than UT Arlington: Texas Tech (211th, twice), TCU (226th, twice), Saturday's game against Texas State (258th) and Rice (290th).

But this wasn't meant as a doom-and-gloom note. In fact, the encouraging thing is that as Texas's competition level has stepped up, one of the Longhorn freshmen appears to have found his way. Ridley has elevated his play in those two contests, scoring 12.5 points per game, grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game and blocking two shots per game.

Part of that has to do with Ridley's play. He's showing more authority in posting up forcefully in great position. But as much has to do with external factors, like his teammates getting him the ball when he does post well.

Here's the thing: Ridley had the potential to score even more if he can start making his free throws. In those two contests, he shot a whopping 16 free throws, but made just seven. If Ridley were shooting 75 percent, he would have averaged 15 points per game over those two.

How far off is Javan Felix?

One of those external factors mentioned above was that Felix played with an increased sense of urgency for the first 35 minutes of his 38-minute appearance against the Bruins. True, Felix didn't shoot that well even in those 35 minutes (thanks largely to an 0-for-4 stint from behind the three-point arc … other than that, he was 6-for-12).

But Felix got to the rim, scored 13 points and dished out four assists to just two turnovers. When UCLA finally went to the press for the game's final three minutes, Felix just appeared to run out of gas, committing two turnovers and essentially committing a third by blindly driving too far into the lane and getting his shot blocked.

Texas coach Rick Barnes said afterward that Felix was playing "about 23" minutes more than the Longhorns expected him to as a freshman with Myck Kabongo expected to be in the fold, a reference to the 15 minutes per game Felix probably should be playing at this stage in his development.

Instead, Felix is not only the Longhorn logging the most minutes per contest, but he's about five minutes per game higher than Texas's No. 2, Sheldon McClellan, and about 10 minutes higher than No. 3, Julien Lewis. Because of that, I think it's somewhat necessary to grade him on a curve. And for 35 minutes against a top-40 opponent, Felix showed he has the chops to develop into a solid player with more grooming.

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