Column: Texas needs to take advantage of its size when facing Butler

Evan Berkowitz

All season long, I waited for Texas to take advantage of the size.

I’ve waited for them to consistently feed junior center Cameron Ridley and freshman forward Myles Turner. Ridley’s mass is unequaled. Turner’s height and skill unparalleled. Heck, even feed senior forward Jonathan Holmes the rock in the post as he can take advantage of the smaller defenders that constantly guard him.

But time after time, Texas has settled for the three where they are shooting a pedestrian 34 percent.

In the first game of the Big 12 championships in Kansas City, I finally got a glimpse of how effective and efficient this Longhorns offense could be when they look inside first. In a 15-minute stretch against Tech, Texas played the best ball it had all season—and it did so without attempting a three.

Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor attacked the rim for the dish or the score. Ridley created space and finished. Turner and Holmes also got plenty of touches.

All was going well. The bigs were happy. The guards were happy. Head coach Rick Barnes was happy. It looked like Texas finally figured it out.
Then they regressed right back into their old ways the very next game against Iowa State. They shot 22 threes. Ridley got just four shot attempts. Turner two. Holmes attempted just three from beneath the arc. The fact Texas was making their threes masked that Texas was once against not looking to pound it inside.

In the round of 64, though, Texas will be playing an undersized Butler team that rebounds extremely well. That means the Longhorns will need to force it inside. Ridley’s man will weigh 85 pounds less. Turner will have at least two inches on whomever guards him. Holmes will have a mismatch.
Those three will be the key. They have to want it. Ridley will have to work to create space (a pesky Butler team won’t let him get it easily). Turner has to want the ball and be ready to catch it. Holmes has to find his way inside rather than floating to the corner. That will result in high percentage looks.

If Texas can do that, it should be able to take advantage of its fortuitous draw against an undersized Bulldog team and live to see another day. If they settle for threes, the Horns will cap off an extremely disappointing season in a disappointing fashion.

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