#6 Texas Longhorns (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) vs Kansas State Wildcats (12-1, 1-0 Big 12)
January 3, 2023, 8 P.M.
Moody Center, Austin, TX (the finest parking lot in Texas)
|Center||23||Dillon Mitchell||Fr||6'8"||205||Tampa, FL|
|Forward||1||Dylan Disu||Sr||6'9"||220||Pflugerville, TX||Vandy|
|Wing||0||Timmy Allen||Sr||6'6"||210||Mesa, AZ||Utah|
|Guard||4||Tyrese Hunter||So||6'0"||175||Racine, WI||Iowa State|
|Point Guard||5||Marcus Carr||Sr||6'2"||175||Toronto, Canada||Minnesota|
|Forward/Center||32||Christian Bishop||Sr||6'7"||220||Lee's Summit, MO||Creighton|
|Guard||10||Sir'Jabari Rice||Sr||6'4||180||Houston, TX||New Mexico State|
|Forward/Wing||30||Brock Cunningham||Sr||6'6"||210||Austin, TX|
|Guard||2||Arterio Morris||Fr||6'3"||190||Dallas, TX|
Texas on Offense
According to KenPom, Texas’s offensive efficiency of 114.5 is 10th nationally. That’s impressive considering their average possession length of 15.7 is 26th nationally. Generally speaking, teams that play fast don’t usually have the most efficient offenses. Texas is able to push the pace while still valuing the ball. It’s one of the big reasons they are currently ranked 6th in the nation.
Their offense is deadly inside the arc and average from the outside. Their 58.5 2-point percentage is an impressive 9th in the nation, but their 33.8 3-point percentage is a pedestrian 153rd. The Longhorns effective field goal percentage of 55.7 is 19th nationally, which makes sense considering their propensity to score inside.
Senior Marcus Carr spearheads the Texas attack. He averages 17.5 points and 4.1 assists per game while shooting an incendiary 45.5% from deep. His 125 offensive rating is good for 89th nationally. The Minnesota transfer has a bright green light and pushes the ball in transition at every opportunity. He finds easy buckets for himself and his teammates because he’s constantly trying to collapse the defense and either finish at the rim or drop a dime if a secondary defender steps up to stop his progress to the basket. When Tyrese Hunter takes over at the point, Carr moves off the ball and is a deadly outside shooter, both spotted up and coming off screens. When he doesn’t have the ball, he tends to hang out around the top of the arc, both spacing the floor and giving his teammates an easy outlet. He’s one of the better guards in the nation.
What makes this Texas team hard to guard is the addition of Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter. He takes over the offense from Carr on occasion, and gives the Longhorns two elite ball handlers. Last Season’s Big 12 rookie of the year isn’t handing out quite as many assists as he did last season (he’s at 3.1 this season after averaging 4.9 last season) but that’s to be expected with Carr doing the majority of the ball handling. Texas sustains their breakneck pace because Hunter is able to push the ball almost as effectively as Carr. He allows them to stay in attack mode for 40 minutes without burning out their best player.
Timmy Allen does a little bit of everything from his wing position. He leads Texas in assists (4.2) and rebounds (6.1) while only averaging 25.5 minutes a game. When he’s in the game, he goes all out, because Texas interim coach Rodney Terry keeps the pedal to the metal. He attacks the rim at every opportunity.
The Texas attack will remind you of a sped up version of Kansas State’s. It’s all about the dribble drive. Carr will attack, and if he gets stopped, he’ll cycle it back out to Hunter, who attacks. If he gets stuffed, he either cycles it back out to Carr or gets it to Allen, who proceeds to attack. Their interior players are above the rim finishers that pick up easy baskets off dribble drive dump offs.
If the Wildcats plan on hanging with the Longhorns in Austin, they have to stop the ball in transition and contain the dribble in the half court. Texas is relentless, but they’re a bit of a one-note offense (but they play that one note really well). The only thing that keeps them from being an elite offense is their inability to shoot from outside. Outside of Carr, they don’t have much in terms of outside shooting other than reserve Brock Cunningham (41%). Hunter is shooting 30% and Allen shoots 20%. It’s best to play off (with the exception of Carr) and dare them to beat you from the perimeter.
Texas on Defense
Texas is slightly less efficient on defense at 89.8, good for 13th in nation. Unlike their offense, they force teams to slow down. Their opponents’ average possession length of 18.2 is 319th nationally. They thrive on turnovers, with their opponents not offering up a shot 25% of the time, which is 12th in the nation. They force other teams to throw the ball away; their 13.4% non-steal turnover percentage is 3rd nationally. Their defense ignites their offense.
While their defense is solid, it can be exploited. They collapse on drives, and often leave the weak side of the floor undefended. If Kansas State’s guards can get two feet in the paint, there should be ample opportunities to kick to weak side shooters spotted up, or — my personal preference — wings slashing to the basket for dunks. Tomlin and Johnson will have opportunities to punish the rim. I look for them to overplay Keyontae and try to deny him the ball. He’s savvy enough to feel that and back cut. There’s going to be a few meetings at the rim in this game. Dylan Disu leads the ‘Horns in blocks at 1.4 a game, but I’m not sure he’s seen a player as physical at the rim as Johnson or as explosive as Tomlin. He could end up on a poster.
X-Factor - Turnovers
Texas likes to turn teams over, Kansas State likes to turn the ball over. 19.2% of Wildcat possessions end without an attempt at the rim. That can’t happen against Texas or they will run Tang’s gang off the court.
Markquis Nowell’s 45.2% assist rate is the second best in the nation, only behind Saint Louis’s Yuri Collins. If he can get in the lane, and get the ball to K-State’s finishers without turning it over, the ‘Cats have a shot to pull the road upset. This is a game he has to dominate with his quickness and decision making.
Texas - 75
Kansas State - 64
Texas - 78
Kanas State - 72
This one will be closer than expected, and should be a fun game to watch (if you get the right channel). It’s tough to beat Texas at home, but Kansas State will have an opportunity to win it down the stretch. Carr vs Knowles is an incredible point guard match up and Keyontae vs Timmy Allen will be must see TV. If the Wildcats can win one of those two matchups, they could spring the upset.