5 Takeaways from Texas Basketball Win vs Incarnate Word

Nov 11, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart reacts against the Incarnate Word Cardinals during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. The Longhorns won 78-73. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas basketball hit the floor for the first time this season on Friday night and escaped with a 78-73 win over Incarnate Word. The No. 21 Longhorns had more trouble with the Cardinals than they expected but found a way to win in the end. What does this game mean going forward for Shaka Smart and Texas?

It’s important to remember that this is an incredibly young team that was short-handed for their season opener. Texas lost their entire starting lineup from last season and will be leaning heavily on a talented freshman class in 2016-17. On top of that, the team dressed just 10 players in this game with Kerwin Roach and Tevin Mack serving suspensions for rules violations during the offseason.

That lack of experience and depth showed up at times against Incarnate Word. Texas turned the ball over a bunch in the first half and then blew a double-digit second half lead. At one point, the Cardinals pulled ahead with 2:30 to play before Texas responded. This was not a game that showcased why Texas is ranked No. 21 in the preseason polls.

However, they did find a way to win. Despite all their mistakes, Texas buckled down when they needed to and put away a dangerous UIW squad. The Cardinals can score and are not your typical “tune-up” game. Shawn Johnson led all scorers in this game with 24 points for Incarnate Word. This won’t be the last time the Cardinals push a big-conference opponent this winter.

In the end, Texas got the win. Here are five things we can take away from the game and build on moving forward.

Nov 11, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Incarnate Word Cardinals guard Jalin Hart (center) passes under pressure by Texas Longhorns guards Jacob Young (3) and Andrew Jones (right) and forward Ryan McClurg (30) during the first half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Smart wants Texas to create chaos with the full-court press. Early on, however, it was the Longhorns who were in chaos in this game. Texas turned the ball over at an alarming rate to start the game and it put them in an early hole.

Incarnate Word jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game helped by Texas’ turnover issues. The Longhorns had 11 early turnovers that undercut their offensive rhythm and got them off to a slow start. Hot shooting helped them get over that, however, as the Horns connected on 57 percent of their shots in the first half.

Texas finished the game with 15 turnovers, against just 12 turnovers for UIW. Against better competition in Big 12 play, those early mistakes could bury the Horns. Texas has to tighten up their possessions and protect the ball while simultaneously turning up the pressure on the opposition. Improved point guard play should help and the team played this game without their starting PG, Kerwin Roach. Roach’s return to the lineup should help clean things up a bit.

Moving forward, Texas cannot be a team that gives the ball away more than it takes it and be successful. They escaped this time around, but won’t be so lucky if they keep this trend going deep into the season.

Nov 11, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Andrew Jones (1) drives around Incarnate Word Cardinals guard Jalin Hart (left) during the first half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas needs to be able to shoot from the perimeter. Whether it’s in transition or in the half court, 3-point shooting is a staple to the Texas attack. Against Incarnate Word, however, the Horns could not find their range and shot terribly from the perimeter.

On the night, Texas connected on just 3-of-18 shots from beyond the arc, a dismal 16.7 percent. Noboby on the team made more than one shot from long range. Yancy, who led the team with 19 points, finished just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Eric Davis Jr. accounted for 16 points on the night, but was just 1-of-6 from the perimeter. The duo combined to go 8-of-14 on all other shots in the game.

At the half, Texas was shooting 57 percent from the field and finished the game shooting 46.6 percent. That’s impressive considering how terrible they shot from 3-point range. Moving forward, Texas has to find a reliable three-point threat to convert open opportunities in transition or to hit open shots when defense collapse down on the post. Without that element, teams will be able to double team Texas’ frontcourt, like Allen, without worrying about getting burned.

More than likley, this was just an off shooting night for the Horns. That will certainly happen and this Texas team is finding its footing. They had a number of guys making their collegiate debut in this game and many were being stretched for more minutes than they’re used to. But when the schedule gets tougher, Texas needs to hit their 3-point shots.

Nov 11, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Jacob Young (center) leads a fast break against the Incarnate Word Cardinals during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. The Longhorns won 78-73. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

With Kerwin Roach and Tevin Mack suspended for this game, the Texas bench was razor thin. The Longhorns dresssed 10 players for this game and played only eight. That meant extended minutes for many players who may not have been expecting it and it showed with signs of fatigue in the second half.

On the night, four players logged at least 32 minutes with Allen playing 36 minutes in his first college game. Freshman James Banks logged 24 minutes in this game off the bench when starting center Shaq Cleare got into foul trouble, ultimately fouling out in just 11 minutes of playing time. Walk-on Ryan McClurg played in the first half and logged six minutes for the game.

The result was tired legs for the Horns in the second half. Guys who were not ready to play that many minutes got pushed beyond their comfort level and that opened the door for UIW to make a run and eventually take the lead. Yancy himself admitted “Some of us got a little fatigued” and that can’t happen to Texas when the games get bigger.

Roach and Mack returning will be a big help. Adding two more viable players who can take on some of those minutes will ease the burden to the entire team. Texas found a way to push through their fatigue in this game to get the win but need to handle that kind of adversity better in the future.

Nov 11, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart reacts against the Incarnate Word Cardinals during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. The Longhorns won 78-73. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t all bad news, of course. Lost in the tight finish was a historic performance from freshman James Banks. In his collegiate debut, Banks set a Texas record with five blocked shots. That’s great news for Texas’ interior defense moving forward.

Banks came off the bench in this game spelling Cleare who got himself into foul trouble. While he didn’t provide much on the offensive side, scoring just two points, he was a force on the defensive end. The young center finished with nine rebounds to go along with his five blocks in 24 minutes. Paired up with Allen, Texas has a dominant front-court pairing on their hands.

Banks understands his role on this team is to “defend the rim,” as he said after the game, while he develops his offensive game. Texas benefits greatly from having an eraser in the paint like Banks to clean up any drives into the lane. If a team breaks the press, they aren’t going to have an easy bucket thanks to Banks protecting the rim.

As he develops, Banks’ defensive ability will help him find steady minutes in this rotation. While Cleare has the experience and a more balanced game, Banks has the potential to be a phenomenal post presence for the Horns this season and beyond.

Mar 30, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonald’s All-American West center Jarrett Allen (31) dunks during the McDonald’s High School All-American Game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Texas landed a star on the recruiting trail when they signed Jarrett Allen. In his college debut, Allen lived up to the hype. In 36 minutes, the freshman phenom posted a double-double, recording 16 points and 12 rebounds and jump-starting his rise to stardom in Austin.

The Austin-native came to Texas with high expectations. He was the top recruit in Smart’s highly touted recruiting class and figured to have lottery-pick talent. In Smart’s system, Allen is a natural fit and is finding quick success. This should lead to big things for the Texas big man moving forward.

There is a void of star-power in the Big 12 this season with so many high-profile players moving on from last season. If this game were any indication, Allen is ready to step into that spotlight and show the world what he can do. While this is great for Texas this season, it might shorten how long the Horns get to enjoy Allen’s talents before he takes off to the NBA.

Texas’ success this season hinged on young players stepping up and leading the way. Allen, in particular, was going to get a major share of the responsibility for this team. He responded in a major way in the season opener and have Texas fans excited to see what he can do the rest of the way.

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