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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Smart: Give KU credit that UT couldn’t finish what it started

Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his defense during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his defense during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Even though Saturday’s 76-67 loss to Kansas University came during his first trip to Allen Fieldhouse, Texas coach Shaka Smart sure sounded like a guy who had been coming to the old building for years.

Asked what went wrong that turned an early 12-point Texas lead into a late 13-point deficit and eventual nine-point KU win, Smart rattled off a few factors like he had experienced them a dozen times before.

“It was a combination of three things,” the first-year UT coach said. “First, when you come in here and you play in this unbelievable atmosphere, you know that a run is coming, and the crowd is gonna be behind their team.”

That run allowed Kansas to turn a 40-33 second-half deficit into a 57-46 lead with 8:44 to play.

“Second thing is, we missed some pretty easy shots that I think we normally would make,” Smart continued.

They did, missing four point-blank shots to kick-start the KU run during a second half in which they shot seven percentage points lower than in the first half.

“The third thing is, Kansas made some great plays, and I think you have to give those guys credit,” Smart finished.

That last part, Kansas taking the game instead of Texas coughing it up, was the part that Smart continued to emphasize. But for a while it looked like he might not have to.

Eight minutes in, the Longhorns had built a 19-7 lead, and, with Kansas (16-3 overall, 5-2 Big 12) on its heels, looked like the much more aggressive team.

That was by design, according to both Smart and UT guard Isaiah Taylor. And never was the Texas game plan more evident than on a fast break that featured Taylor as the middle man for two talented freshmen.

With UT leading 15-5, freshman guard Eric Davis Jr. (13 points, five rebounds, 21 minutes) rifled a pass ahead to a streaking Taylor. Taylor, who also finished with 13 points but added six rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes, immediately attacked the rim and appeared to be well on his way to an easy layup. That’s when things got wild. Instead of finishing the play himself, Taylor flipped a pass over his head to hard-charging freshman Kerwin Roach, who finished the play with a little flair to put Texas (12-7, 4-3) ahead 17-5.

“I just told ’em to play loose,” Taylor said with a smile. “After that play, Kerwin was like, ‘Yo, I thought you were gonna shoot the layup.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, man, we gotta get you going.’ (Our freshmen) gave us a spark today.”

That UT highlight served as notice the Longhorns were there to play. In the end, though, they could not sustain that same level of intensity and execution and watched Kansas remain poised en route to the come-from-behind home victory.

Smart said he was pleased with the way his team started and gave credit to Kansas for preventing the Longhorns from finishing it the same way.

“Those guys were stronger in the last 10 minutes than they were early,” Smart said. “Great coaching, great players, great atmosphere, and it’s not easy. I thought Kansas’ players did a great job. They had more energy in the second half than they did in the first, and we had a little bit less.

“The best teams have a high, high level of resolve and toughness. We’ve made some progress with that, but, obviously, today shows that we’ve still got a ways to go.”

— See what people were saying about KU vs. Texas during KUsports.com’s live blog.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas




By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Texas 67

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Texas 67

Comments

Richard Duran 3 years, 9 months ago

Welcome to the life in the Big 12 Shaka.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 9 months ago

I have respect for Shaka. He played his freshmen through mistakes. His seniors seem to groom the freshmen unselfishly. Their losses will pay off in the end. A "W" does not always Win (200). This is how you develop freshmen. Let 'em play!

Bryce Landon 3 years, 9 months ago

Those charcoal uniforms the T-sips were wearing were pretty ugly.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 9 months ago

Agreed, Steve. Shaka showed considerable graciousness, and I am sure that he will have a lot of success at Texas.

He does let freshmen play through their mistakes, which will bode well for the future. In KU's case, the decision has apparently been made to go with experience.

Perhaps the desire to not break the streak of conference championships is a factor. However, the KU team of yesterday was essentially the same team as last year, without Kelly Oubre. Consequently, we are banking on the hope that the same players from last year will consistently play considerably better this year.

While they are better, I still doubt that KU can make much of a run in the NCAA without a true rim protector. I was hoping that Cheick would be that guy, but I guess not this year.

In the end, I am afraid that the string will be broken anyway (OU appears to be the best team in the league at this point), and our team won't be much better prepared for the NCAA than they were last year.

Certainly, I hope that I am wrong. Yesterday's game was a nice, albeit not terribly inspiring, win. However, tomorrow at Ames is likely to reinforce the reality of the situation. All we can really ask is that they give maximum energy and effort going forward.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 9 months ago

Cheick would be that guy, alright, Harlan. You guessed it right, not this year. Not next year. Not in any year as long as he's under coach Self. Look at Aldrich, do you think he was groomed to be pick and roll guy while at KU - like he does now so well at Knicks? The same will happen to athletic guy Diallo, he will be immobilize by coach Self's plays. A better rim protector he will be, perhaps. But he will not develop as a lethal weapon offensively, or learn how to become one.

Jay Scott 3 years, 9 months ago

Shaka couldn't win the JV conferences that VCU was in. 'Horns fans won't tolerate middle of the pack finishes in the Big12 and a couple tourney wins as a 10 seed every once in a while.

Doug Clark 3 years, 9 months ago

I heard the announcers say several times during the game that Coach stressed that he wants the team to show more emotion but I didn't see it. The way they played the first 10 minutes was terrible, Perry not guarding Lammert and Coach was forced to use early timeout,then he helped off too much later and gave Lammert another wide open 3 on his way to a career high, then he just watched as Davis drove to the basket off pick and roll, Frank and Devonte both losing Taylor on back door plays and they both just clapped their hands together like oh well I messed that one up. In my opinion if they are going to make such a big deal about Accountability then one of their teammates should've been on them and letting them know that's not acceptable. Those are just a few mistakes and they just can't happen especially on the road, luckily they were at home but I am preparing myself for a loss at Ames because they are still making too many mistakes, I hope I am wrong.

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