With that, the Longhorns advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
First thing, this was the true definition of a team win. The Longhorns were tough, competitive, picked each other up, connected, and were playing for a common goal. That means they had the ability to respond to adversity with Dylan Disu not being able to go tonight, plus Sir’Jabari Rice getting into immediate foul trouble.
Headed into the game, Texas had an athletic advantage at guard. Texas could get to the paint against man defense. Before that could happen, though, Texas was going to have to hit some mid-range jumpers. Marcus Carr is at his best in the mid-range game off the bounce. After a few fell, then Texas would have the opportunity to take advantage attacking the paint.
Texas ran the dribble hand-off action about as well as they could. Texas guards got the ball on the move, and Xavier wasn’t quick enough at guard or with the bigs to hard hedge and contain it. Xavier was going to play drop coverage as it’s the best option against a more athletic and talented Texas team.
Tyrese Hunter gets the game ball tonight. He had a quickness advantage, and took full advantage. He not only scored the ball on the move toward the rim, but hit all three of his long range attempts. He also made a pair of nifty passes for easy buckets in the paint.
Texas also used the big/big screening action from elbow to elbow perfectly once again to create matchup opportunities on the move for Timmy Allen.
Christian Bishop stepped up with 18 points and nine rebounds. Texas guards did a very good job getting the ball to Bishop on the move toward the rim when Xavier switched or was slow to rotate in the ball screen game.
Xavier also mixed in zone. Texas attacked the middle with Allen, and cut from the baseline with quick reads when Xavier shaded/rotated up a step and a half. Texas also hit the timely threes against zone. Brock Cunningham made a couple of nice passes against the zone defense for clean looks.
Texas was locked in once again defensively. To be clear, Xavier missed a number of paint touch shots or second chance opportunities they probably convert at a high clip in a second chance game. With that said, Texas guards were to going to pressure Xavier, especially Souley Boum, early and often. He will turn his back just enough against quality pressure defense to take the offense out of rhythm. Hunter turned in a terrific on the ball performance against a talented scorer.
Kunkel made shots and played well offensively. Tip of the hat, as he did so against quality defense by the Texas guards. Eight-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from three against Texas guards is a very strong performance. Also, thank you to Kunkel for pissing off Rice. Never a smart move. Speaking of Rice, he always responds to adversity, and he did so tonight after immediate foul trouble. Rice took smart shots, made smart plays and did what he always does – made winning plays on both ends. They were hustle plays, smart plays, and timely plays.
It wasn’t all good or pretty, as it never is. Kudos to Arterio Morris for great effort defensively and some timely rebounds, but in his 37th college game, he should be showing more signs of understanding good shot/bad shot, the game flow, and when to attack. That was a very poor offensive showing from Morris.
Texas was 12-19 from the free throw line, which is a couple short of where they ideally want to be. That didn’t matter tonight, however. Getting to the free throw line 19-20 times is right where Texas wants to be.
There is much more to discuss, but it’s all about an Elite Eight team.
The post Game Thoughts: Texas advances to the Elite Eight with 83-71 win over Xavier appeared first on On3.