We all know that Texas has been a bit all over the place over its last five games. The Longhorns claimed two double-digit wins at home and were flattened in three trips on the road. But just how out-of-sorts were the performances?
Points Per Possession is an outstanding way to look at a team's level of success on offense or defense. A team can score 80 points in a game, but still perform poorly on offense if the tempo is high. Likewise, a squad can play some lights-out offense, but have a low-scoring game if the tempo is low, like Villanova winning the 1985 NCAA title by scoring 66 points against Georgetown, while the Wildcats shot 78.6 percent from the floor.
In addition to giving us a tempo-free success rate, PPP gives us an all-inclusive measure of success. It accounts for turnovers, offensive rebounds, hot shooting and free throws, and does so in a way that's easy to understand. The median PPP for the season is right at about 1.046. The medium PPP for a Big 12 team in conference play is 1.075.
The numbers are easy to figure out, and if you don't like playing with small decimals, here's basically what the stat is saying: Texas is averaging 104.6 points per 100 possessions over the course of the season. Now, a team gets significantly fewer than 100 possessions per basketball game. Texas is the nation's 30th-fastest team in raw tempo, and the Longhorns see an average of 71 possessions per game. But for these purposes, it isn't really that important to show tempo.
So, in order to take a look at both how Texas has been traditionally this season, and just how yo-yo-like the Longhorns have been in recent games, here are Texas's season averages.
Season — 1.067 PPP (Offense) to 0.996 PPP (Defense)
Conference — 1.068 PPP to 1.050 PPP
On the season, Texas is in the positive on both offense and defense. The Longhorns are ahead of the average raw PPP on offense (1.067 to 1.046), and hold opponents significantly below that 1.046 mark on defense at 0.996.
In conference play, Texas is slightly below the average mark on offense (1.068 to 107.5). but well below again on defense at 1.050.
Now that we've taken a look at where Texas is from an average standpoint, we can begin to take aim at just how off-the-wall, Texas has been over its last five games.
Kansas State (L) — 0.89 PPP (Offense) to 1.16 PPP (Defense)
Oklahoma State (W) — 1.23 PPP to 0.96 PPP
West Virginia (W) — 1.26 PPP to 1.01 PPP
Iowa State (L) — 1.06 PPP to 1.18 PPP
Kansas (L) — 0.84 PPP to 1.33 PPP
See what I mean? In each of the last five games, Texas has either been terrific, playing well above its average in both offense and defense, or the Longhorns have been horrific, finishing below in both. The Iowa State game is the closest one we have to Texas hitting its average, on offense, though the Longhorns were significantly worse on defense in that game.
For comparison's sake, Creighton has the nation's best offense at 1.218 PPP on the season. So in each of Texas's wins, the Longhorns played offense at a level commensurate with the best in the country. What about the losses? A mark of 1.18 (allowed to Iowa State) would be enough for the No. 4 average in the country, while 1.16 (allowed to Kansas State) would be No. 9 nationally.
Defensively, Arizona is the best raw defense at 0.883. So Kansas held Texas below that, while Kansas State put Texas right about in that range. The 0.96 that Texas held Oklahoma State to? That's just below the top 25, while the 1.01 PPP scored by West Virginia is a top-100 mark*.
* Remember that college basketball has 351 teams in Division I, so while top-100 might not sound that impressive, it is, and it's well below the Big 12 PPP rate.
This gives a pretty good look at just how all-over-the-place Texas has been in recent weeks. Can they find a happy medium down the stretch of the conference season? We'll see.