Texas Sloppy in Overtime Loss

The #11 Texas Longhorns showed on Saturday in the Frank Erwin Center how many ways there are to lose a basketball game and did so 85-81 in OT against Kansas State. Texas played sloppy with the ball, put forth poor strategy near game's end, gave up a key offensive rebound following the poor strategy and everything else imaginable in a loss that snapped the Longhorns 19-game home winning streak.

The #11 Texas Longhorns attempted every way possible to lose a game on Saturday and did so 85-81 in overtime to the Kansas State Wildcats. Whether it was 13 first half turnovers, the majority unforced, that led to a 10-point deficit, poor strategy with 6.9 seconds remaining in overtime, another game with questionable shot selection by a senior leader, key free throws bricked or giving up a key offensive rebound following a pair of Kansas State misses and the Longhorns proved there are many ways to lose a basketball game.

Along with the self-inflicted wounds by Texas (15-5, 4-2), the Longhorns witnessed a Big 12 tying record 44 point effort by Wildcats guard Denis Clemente. In addition to the conference tying number posted, Clemente's outburst is the most points scored against Texas in the Erwin Center.

The Wildcats began to take control of the game at the six-minute mark of the first half on a Fred Brown three-pointer giving the Wildcats (14-7, 3-4) a 21-17 lead.

Kansas State followed the three with nine more points in the following four and half minutes stretching the lead to 30-17 with a 14-0 run that covered five minutes.

Kansas State would maintain a double digit lead through the first 15 minutes of the second half behind the red hot long range shooting of Clemente, who converted five three-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half.

Texas fought their way back into the game in the final five minutes of regulation behind intense pressure defense and some key shots down the stretch by A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason as well as key free throws from Damion James, Gary Johnson and Varez Ward.

The key basket was the final one of regulation by a hard driving Mason as he put the left shoulder down and drove down the right side of the lane before creating enough space to score on a five-footer to tie the game at 74-74 with nine seconds remaining.

The Wildcats missed a last second 35-footer as time expired sending the game to overtime.

Just when it seemed as though the Longhorns had the momentum, Abrams forced two three-pointers when Texas had Kansas State on their heels. A pair of missed free throws by James followed the poor shot selection with 3:21 remaining in overtime.

Still down just 78-74, James answered with bell with a jumper to cut the lead to 78-76 with 2:35 to play. Mason then followed with a tough runner off the glass to tie the game at 78-78.

After Kansas State converted one of two free throws on their following possession for a 79-78 lead, Gary Johnson was fouled and stepped to the line with a chance to give the Longhorns their first lead since the 7:15 mark of the first half. Instead, he made one of two and the game was tied again at 79-79.

Fred Brown followed with the biggest shot of the game as he knocked down a 24-footer as the shot clock expired to give the Wildcats an 82-79 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

Johnson was fouled again on the Longhorn's next possession and returned to the line for two huge free throws. One of two again and the Wildcats had an 82-80 lead with 11 seconds to play.

Kansas State forward Ron Anderson was immediately fouled on the inbound pass and stepped to the line with a chance to ice the game. He missed both the first and the second seemingly giving the Longhorns another shot to tie, but Kansas State's Jamar Samuels snatched the offensive rebound from Damion James with nine seconds to play. Samuels made one of two for an 83-80 lead.

Texas threw the ball inbounds to Dogus Balbay and he raced up the court. The Wildcats followed with a smart decision to foul the sub-60% free throw shooter as he crossed half court with 6.9 seconds to play.

Balbay calmly sank the first free throw to cut the lead to 83-81. Texas then made the mistake of trying to miss the second free throw on purpose even though a make and one point deficit and immediate foul would have given the Longhorns plenty of time for last chance at a tie or win. Even a miss on the second would have resulted in an immediate foul on a Kansas State big man.

Balbay's free throw never hit the rim and the ball was turned over to Kansas State and Clemente was fouled. He sank both and sank Texas 85-81.

A Look at the Numbers

The Longhorns shot 41.3% (26-63) overall, 23.5% (4-17) from three and 64.1% (25-39) from the free throw line.

The Wildcats converted 38.2% (26-68) from the floor, 66.7% (10-15) from the three-point line and 65.7% (23-35) from the foul line.

The Longhorns won the battle of the boards 44-42, but gave up 17 offensive rebounds and 12 second chance points.

The Longhorns lost the turnover battle 20-16.

The Good

In a loss such as this, there really isn't anything good to be taken away. With that said, credit to Justin Mason for his play down the stretch and a quality game coming off some of his least productive games in his Longhorn career.

The Bad

Not sure where to start and where to end. So many issues and some read like a broken record of this year and seasons past.

Texas committed 20 turnovers with 13 in the first half. The Longhorns committed unforced turnovers at a high rate in the first half against some decent pressure defense, but not ball pressure that should make one crumble. Damion James' turnovers were as bad as it gets in the first half, as they were just careless and without being pressured.

A.J. Abrams shot selection was poor at best and in overtime was just terrible. Both shots were quick. Neither was smart nor of winning basketball in a tie game in which every possession is of the upmost importance. Those poor shots were key as Texas had the crowd in the game and had never taken the lead to put the pressure on Kansas State. Low percentage shots by a player that was having a cold night. It was just killer decision making by an experienced player.

On the final offensive rebound of the 17 given up by Texas, Connor Atchley may have been held and pulled down by a Kansas State defender, but Samuels should not have gotten two hands on that rebound and snagged it. James didn't block out and keep an active rebounder on his back when proper technique was called for at a time in which the game was on the line.

Gary Johnson committed a trio of unforced turnovers that lead to transition chances. He converted just two of four free throws in the final minute of overtime when it was a must to convert both to put pressure on the Wildcats.

The decision to miss the second free throw on purpose with 6.9 seconds remaining was a head scratcher. Down 83-81 with Balbay making the first and 6.9 seconds remaining, a make on the second would have gotten Texas within one and Kansas State would have had to inbounds pass against pressure and Texas would have been in position to foul immediately. The result likely would have been Kansas State going to the free throw line with a lot of pressure up one and Texas having between four and five seconds to work for a game tying or winning shot depending on the outcome at the line by the Wildcats.

If one assumes Texas misses the second free throw trying to make it, a Kansas State big man would have very likely snatched the rebound and been fouled immediately. It would be the same situation with Kansas State walking to the line, this time with big men who aren't accomplished free throw shooters facing the immense pressure.

While there were many things that led to the bad loss, that strategy was very questionable and wasn't required at the time.

Connor Atchley again gave Texas nothing on offense. For Texas to have any shot to maximize their potential as a team, the senior is going to have to knock down some perimeter shots and take pressure off of Abrams and James.

Dogus Balbay's strength on offense is in the screen/roll game. Instead of him being allowed to play to his strengths, his quickness and explosive ability is being used to dribble and pass the ball from side to side with the hope that perimeter jump shots will be knocked down. That is not using the strengths of a player to help maximize his ability and put pressure on a defense. Even if teams play under the ball screen, Texas needs to have Balbay in more of an attack mode and that may mean living with some missed 15-foot shots, but maybe he'll make enough to force some change.

Texas isn't going to live and die by the catch and shoot jump shot and have the season most expect. Balbay is also the only player that can use Atchley's screen and float ability and get him the ball. That would give Atchley some chances to step into a shot, as he needs to do to regain his confidence.

Mason and Balbay did a poor job in the first few minutes on Clemente, but didn't get any help from their teammates on the double screen on the left wing. James was asleep on one of them and Johnson as well. Balbay, for some reason, sat in the middle of the lane and left Clemente on one occasion when Kansas State wasn't scoring the ball on post catches. Mason jumps more than he slides his feet on defense and he takes himself out of defensive position too much.


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