It’s been hard holding out on posting this for a while now because one never wants to jinx an undefeated Texas athletic season, but Eyes Of TX just can’t contain the excitement any longer. After #1 Kansas lost to a depleted #10 Tennessee squad on Sunday, the ‘Horns are now #1 in the country for the first time in school history and off to the best start in almost 80 years at 16-0. Not a bad pre-season analysis, if you ask around.
After the Texas football team ended their season with a disappointing, yet exciting, loss against Alabama in the BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, the student body has been given a shot of basketball adrenaline with seniors Damion James and Dexter Pittman, and freshman phenom Avery Bradley leading the way toward a second Final Four since 1947. What’s that you say, “Texas is a basketball school now?” Well, Pittman put it best in a recent Sports Illustrated article, “No. This is Colt McCoy’s school. He’s just letting us borrow it.”
Pittman’s modesty doesn’t give the ‘Horns enough kudos for becoming the #1 team in the nation, so let’s explore how Texas battled its way to the top:
Texas is winning every statistical battle with opponents. Most importantly, the ‘Horns are scoring an average of 23.9 points more than their opponents each game (even with their dismal 63 percent shooting at the free throw line this year). The ‘Horns also out-rebound other teams by almost 10 rebounds a game. Finally, the Burnt Orange defense has held opponents to 37 percent shooting from the field.
Winning against a tough schedule. As Eyes of TX stated before the season started, Texas scheduled some of the hardest teams in the nation in 2009-2010. Low and behold, head coach Rick Barnes’ nutty strategy has worked thus far with convincing victories over two top 10 teams, North Carolina and Michigan State, and strong programs like Iowa, USC and Pittsburgh. Texas’ stamina will continue to be challenged as the Big 12 schedule brings teams like #3 Kansas, #13 Kansas State, #22 Baylor twice and Texas A&M twice (first game is this Saturday at 3 p.m. PT on ESPNU). With this remaining schedule, one can’t help but be nervous about how long this undefeated season will last.
Deep bench and game stamina. After watching battles against USC, Iowa, North Carolina and Michigan State, every game the ‘Horns win comes down to one factor: outlasting opponents. With nine players with more than 150 minutes played this season, and four players averaging double digits in scoring, Texas proves its deep bench tires out opponents and is one of the main reasons the Horns remain undefeated.
With Kentucky’s freshman stud John Wall continuing to amaze basketball fans across the country, and the ultimate potential of the Wildcats that everyone keeps talking about, Texas has to keep its momentum going into a tough conference schedule to solidify its #1 ranking. However, with Avery Bradley coming into his own by averaging 26.5 points in his first two Big 12 games against Colorado and Iowa State, and Damion James continuing to add to his 45 career double-doubles, Eyes of TX is pretty confident about the ‘Horns staying in the top spot through January (well, maybe for another week at least).
On the downside, they’ll have to do without freshman Shawn Williams, who after an ankle injury against Texas State early in the season, will undergo surgery and will likely apply for a medical redshirt this season.
Thanks to BigBopper for his thoughts on why Texas is (and will continue to be) the #1 basketball team in the land.