T.J. Ford talks like a typical point guard. But he plays like an exceptional one.
In Texas's 90-87 loss Monday to Kansas University, Ford was the Longhorn standout. He scored 25 points, dished 10 assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
When assessing his play, though, Ford blew it off.
"It really doesn't matter how I perform," he said. "We didn't get the victory."
True, but it wasn't Ford's fault. The sophomore baffled the Kansas defense all night, breaking full-court presses by himself, making seemingly impossible passes through traffic and nailing one of four shots from three-point range.
Ford had just two turnovers despite touching the ball on nearly every Longhorn possession in his 36 minutes on the floor.
A great night, coach Rick Barnes said, but hardly a surprising one.
"T.J. was terrific," Barnes said. "I thought it was tremendous what he did for us, and I like the fact that we kept fighting. He is the best point guard in the country."
Texas has depended heavily on Ford since his arrival a year ago. This season, he's averaging 14.6 points and 7.3 assists per game for the Longhorns, now 13-3 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 Conference play.
Some of his assists shock even the teammates who receive them.
"He finds you sometimes in places where you don't even think you're open," forward Brian Boddicker said, "and then you can shoot a wide-open layup."
When the Kansas defense collapsed on Ford as he drove the lane, Boddicker became the biggest beneficiary. The Texas reserve scored 20 points, all but two on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range. Several of his treys were unguarded.
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"I look for him," Ford said. "He makes it easy for me sometimes, being able to spot up and shoot like that."
Texas returns home Saturday to face No. 9 Oklahoma State. The Longhorns' No. 3 ranking may have taken a significant blow on Monday, but Ford has little doubts about where his squad stands in comparison to the nation's elite.
"We feel we're one of the best teams in the country," Ford said. "But there's a lot we have to work on.
"We're not at our peak yet."