Texas Basketball Notes

Heading into Saturday's game against Rice, Texas ranks 52nd in the nation, according to KenPom. Here's a deeper look at where the Longhorns stand.

1) Texas is 207th nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

It isn't difficult to put a finger on why the Longhorns have been retched on offense. Texas has an effective Field Goal Percentage of 44.5, a number that comes in 286th in the nation. And that's just when the Longhorns get shots off. Texas turns the ball over on 24.5 percent of its possessions — yes, that's right, nearly one-in-four Texas possessions ends in a turnover — which is 310th nationally.

That turnover rate is actually better than it was earlier in the season. And the main thing that prevents Texas from being even worse offensively is the fact that the Longhorns are pretty good at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Texas ranks 60th in free throw attempts per field goal attempt.

If there's one player who serves as a microcosm for the offense's struggles, it's Texas star Sheldon McClellan, who, not coincidentally, takes a team-high 28.1 percent of Texas's shots when he's in the game. McClellan has a poor eFG% of just 41.4 percent. But he draws 6.6 fouls per 40 minutes, 50th best in the nation, and he's also ranked in the nation's top 150 in free throw rate.

2) The Longhorns are elite defensively

Texas ranks fourth nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, though that mark puts the Longhorns third in the Big 12 behind Kansas (second) and Oklahoma State (third). The Longhorns have achieved that feat through remarkable field goal percentage defense.

The Longhorns are forcing opponents to shoot just 36.8 in eFG%, the best mark in the country, and have been tough to shoot over either inside or out. Opponents are making just 38.8 percent of their two-point attempts against Texas (10th nationally), while shooting a paltry 21.4 percent from behind the arc (first).

Texas is 15th in the nation in block percentage, blocking 15.0 percent of the attempts taken against the Longhorns.

3) There's plenty of room for improvement

One of the first things to do when your team struggles to execute in the halfcourt is to speed things up, something that Texas coach Rick Barnes has repeatedly drilled into his young team. And they're starting to take that to heart. The Longhorns rank 114th nationally in adjusted tempo, but that's up significantly from where they were just five games ago.

Still, if the Longhorns are going to get out and run, they'll have to improve in two other areas that facilitate fast break opportunities. The Longhorns haven't been a strong defensive rebounding team — they're 155th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage allowed — and they haven't been able to force turnovers (179th). The former should improve with more minutes from recently cleared power forward Jaylen Bond, who was arguably the Big 12's top returning by-percentage rebounder.

In limited opportunities a year ago, Bond pulled down 21.4 percent of available defensive rebounds, a mark that would have left him just outside of the nation's top 100 rebounders (you have to play 40 percent of available minutes to qualify, and Bond played 38.2). And while it wouldn't help for fast break purposes, Bond's 13.3 offensive rebounding percentage would have put him in the nation's top 60 offensive rebounders.

His return should be a boon for the Longhorns rebounders. Jonathan Holmes is grabbing offensive rebounds at a slightly better rate than Bond did (14.2), but isn't quite the defensive rebounder (19.5). He leads the Longhorns in both categories.

Of course, there are other areas where the Longhorns can make significant strides. According to KenPom, the average experience on the team is 0.41 years, making the Longhorns 347th in experience — the youngest team in the country.

Horns Digest Top Stories