We are two games in to Isaiah Taylor’s return from a broken left wrist and it’s clear to anybody watching that he’s still trying to adjust to time lost with those 10 missed games.
Taylor was 4-of-13 (30 percent) for nine points, four assists, and four rebounds. His usually productive drives to the hoop most often went for not, with a couple either completely missing the rim or getting swatted.
In Taylor’s return from injury against Texas Tech on Saturday he was just 2-of-10 from the floor with six turnovers.
Is Barnes surprised at all by his guard’s sluggish start?
”No. That part I’m not surprised by,” Barnes said. "He's practiced one and a half days and he's' played two games. That part I'm not surprised by. Isaiah coming back you know there is going to be a little bit of flow there, but that had nothing to do with it.”
It’s just going to take some time. If there is a positive you can take from everything right now it’s that there doesn’t appear to be any hesitancy from him when it comes to attacking the rim.
We saw that Saturday when he drove the lane for a dunk. And we saw it numerous times on Monday, although he was pulled by Barnes after missing an early layup in the games first two minutes.Details, Details, Details
One reason Taylor was pulled was because he wasn’t paying close enough attention to the details Texas’ staff wanted him to early in the game.
Barnes didn’t want him dribbling the ball to the corner of the baseline. He did that early.
But Taylor was far from the only one not being detail oriented.
Barnes didn’t want OU’s Ryan Spangler to get freed up in transition. Spangler made a transition layup a few minutes in.
"We have to understand the details,” Barnes said. “From night-to-night, we don't know what we're going to get in terms of consistency form one player to the next from one game to the next. That's what we have to get. We have to get guys understanding their role totally, buying into their role totally, and knowing we're going to get that from them every single night."
One thing that bothered Barnes about Jonathan Holmes’ game on Monday was that six of his nine shots came from beyond the arc. Not only did he miss all six, but that went against the game plan of trying to get him mismatched in the paint.
Holmes finished with just four points and six rebounds. Myles Turner, like Holmes, was only 2-for-9 for four points and five rebounds.What else does it come down to?
The post-game was filled with deep, meaningful messages from Barnes and players alike.
One of the prevailing ones was that Texas had to show more toughness and fight.
"All I know is this: every guy on this team has started a game this year except Jordan Barnett, so no one can say they haven't gotten a chance,” Barnes said. “We're not a young team now. We're not going to get into that. Bottom line is it gets back to whether it's ego… I think we have a good group of guys. I don't think we're mentally tough enough when it comes to understanding what we're supposed to do and how we're supposed to do it and then having enough respect for your opponent that they're going to try to take that away from you."
And when your opponent does try to take it away from you what are you going to do about it?
Barnes said that’s where Texas’ pride should kick in.
”At some point in time you have to say, ‘Hey we aren’t going to take this.’ We missed some shots then everyone, all at once, tried to do it themselves.”
”The more we dug that hole the least we tried fighting,” he continued.
”I’m disappointed because I don’t think we showed any toughness, any fight.
Added Holmes: “That was embarrassing. They came in here and took us out of everything. Played harder than us. Showed more pride than us. They beat us in every area of the game.”
Demarcus Holland thinks Texas needs to get back to the basics.
” We haven't been playing well these past couple of weeks," he said. a"We really just have to figure out who we are. Get back to basics of how we started, just playing defense and out-rebounding teams. [We need to be] blue collar players and go out there and execute what the coaches have laid out for us."Not playing UT basketball
Barnes has said all along that he wants to play inside-out to take advantage of Texas’ size down low.
Monday’s game appeared to be the perfect opportunity to do so with the Sooners not playing anybody over 6-foot-9. But UT never got into a flow down low.
In fact, the Sooners, despite their height advantage, outscored Texas in the paint 16-6 in the first half and 34-16 for the game.
”They really punched us in the mouth,” Jonathan Holmes said. “Their bigs played better than we did and took it to us.”
The Longhorns weren’t getting anything going in a first half that was about as ugly as possible. Even then, most of Texas’ attempts were from outside the paint, including going 2-for-11 from the three-point line.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said that had a lot to do with OU trapping the posts, which did cause several turnovers when bigs tried to pass back out and their passes got deflected.
”Texas had some looks that didn't go down,” Kruger said. “That always helps. But I thought our guys had a little bit to do with that. When we trapped the post I thought our rotation was pretty good.”
”I thought our effort down low was pretty good,” he continued.
Oklahoma post TaShawn Thomas knew the task in front of him was going to be daunting, but he and other posts refused to back down.
”Coach before the game kept telling us they were big,” he said. “We had to be ready to play. Ryan and I kept saying that we had to get into their legs. We had to stop them from getting the ball in the paint. I thought we did a good job of that.”
Texas was an abysmal 6-of-30 over the first 20 minutes and no one made more than one bucket. One.
Barnes will also tell you that he wants his bigs running more than anyone in the country. He loves seeing them get out in transition to try and create easy fast break, or early shot clock buckets. Texas lost the fast-break battle 14-2 this time around.
That’s inexcusable.Not feeling charitable?
The Longhorns failed to get to the free throw line at all in the first half and didn’t get there in the second half until the 14:58 mark.
For the game, Texas was 7-of-8 from the line. OU did a much better job fighting for loose balls and got UT to fall for pump fakes throughout the night on its way to shooting 15-of-18 from the line.
The Longhorns are usually a team that finds their way to the line quite a bit, shooting 79 more free throws than their opponents prior to tonight.
Texas simply wasn’t aggressive enough to get there. And, in the rare occurrence that UT did penetrate the lane, Oklahoma did a nice job of keeping its hands up.
It didn’t help that UT settled for too many three-pointers early in the first when it was trying to erase its big deficit.Can’t remember plays?
One of the more alarming things that Barnes said in an emotionally-filled press conference after the game was that Texas couldn’t remember plays “half the time.”
”I'm serious. Everyone wants to know who starts, why they don't start. There are a lot of reasons," he said. "Sometimes numbers lie. It's about chemistry, execution, and it's tough when guys can't come out. Even at the end of the game we're pressing, man-to-man and guys come out of the huddle that are 15 feet away from their man.
“We'll call one play and we know what we're supposed to be doing, I think. Maybe we don't. But one guy will think we're doing that same play over-and-over. Those are the things that bother me. That gets back to being a team and executing. And I'm to blame for it. If they don't know it by now, there's no one else to blame for it. I know one thing: I'm going to fix my part of it. And we'll see if they're going to fix their part of it."Still early
For as tough a pill as this was to swallow for Barnes and his players, Barnes, in particular, repeatedly said that Texas would be fine.
Kruger even stated that OU caught Texas on a night when it missed some shots.
I don’t think it’s time for full-on panic mode, not yet. UT still has 16 Big 12 games remaining. But the improvement has to start in Stillwater on Saturday.Next up for the Longhorns: At Oklahoma State, 4 p.m., on Saturday.
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