until Texas vs Kansas

Thursday, December 16


Texas 85 UT-Arlington 70

Texas managed to hold off a feisty UT Arlington squad tonight at the Drum, 85-70. This was the Horns' last game before traveling to Winston-Salem on Saturday to take on Wake Forest on national television. Here's wishing we called the game at halftime and boarded the plane for North Carolina.

Texas looked excellent in the first half, playing solid half court and full court defense, hitting open threes, and dominating the lane. Aldridge and Klotz were easily tonight's stand out performers with Buckman not far behind. We will need the same inside dominance to compete with Wake. A casual observer might see PJ Tucker's line and assume that he finally broke out of his slump and became more comfortable in the small forward position. Even though PJ had a double-double, 17 and 10, he seemed to push the issue more than Colin Powell at the UN. He consistently led out numbered fast breaks with his head down and no real chance of finishing the play. We didn't move PJ to 3 so that he could dribble more. Barnes moved him to small forward so that he could stay on the floor more, provide leadership, rebound, play solid defense and occasionally score by taking the ball to the basket in the half court set. Routinely, PJ was trapped by inferior players in an uncomplicated full court defense. Please, get the ball to a guard and get down the court.

Aldridge's play was much more impressive. Tonight's game was surely his most complete. He seems to be a quick study and is already more aggressive both with and without the basketball. It will be intriguing to see how he responds on the road on Saturday.PJ might still be our most talented player and Aldridge might be the one with the most upside, but no one has been more consistent than Jason Klotz. He has now scored in double figures in every game this year. He plays solid fundamental basketball: taking one or two dribbles, keeping the ball above his head, and shooting his now deadly jump hook. He no longer plays masquerade defense and isn't afraid to use his body on either end of the floor. Texas long term success will rest with the development of Gibson out front and Aldridge in the post, but the foundation of this year's team rest solidly on the shoulders of Jason Klotz.

The second half was abysmal. Texas looked bored, out of sync, and were largely outplayed. The middle of the second half looked like a pickup game: consistently forced shots and more routine turnovers. UT Arlington finished with 21 turnover and Texas committed 13, but it seemed like more. Barnes is certainly not pleased with the second half performance. We now have two days of practice to recapture the rhythm and consistency of the first half that allowed us to put the game away early. Wake is the best team we will play out of conference and will be the best team we play until we see Oklahoma State and Kansas in mid and late January. Hawaii provided early tests on a neutral floor. Saturday will provide a much truer test of where we are as a team. I am not sure how much you can tell in games with Texas State, UT Arlington, Centenary, etc. Prediction: Wake 72, Texas 68.

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