No. 19 Texas may be the most surprising team in the country this season, and the way that they’ve done it is through tough defense and an overpowering front court presence.
Isaiah Taylor may be the guy getting the pub of late — scoring 50 points in wins over Baylor and Kansas will do that — but the improvement of Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes are what’s made the Longhorns a top 25 team.
In Tuesday night’s 85-76 loss at No. 17 Iowa State, Taylor and Javan Felix combined for 42 points and 10 assists with just a single turnover, but they were a combined 14-for-42 from the floor while Ridley and Holmes got 14 shot attempts between them.
Now, that’s not all on Taylor and Felix. Texas plays fast. They like to run the floor, and that back court is part of the reason that style has been successful.
But playing an uptempo game is exactly what Iowa State wants to do. The more a team goes up and down with them, the less that team will be able to take advantage of the fact that the Cyclones don’t have much size on their interior. That’s where the problem lied on Tuesday. Where Texas had an advantage was when Georges Niang or Melvin Ejim tried to defend the Texas front line in the paint, and when the two ball-handlers try to go bucket-for-bucket arguably the nation’s best uptempo team, you’re going to run into trouble, especially when the game takes place at Hilton Coliseum.
Texas is going to be fine.
Losing at Iowa State is not unexpected, and it will be anything-but a bad loss on their resume.
But the way this thing played out, this was a game that they could have won.