TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT... If you've watched this Texas team most of the year, you realize their winning and losing depends on on thing: Effort. When they come out to play, they win. When the effort is not there and the intensity is missing, they lose. Simple as that. Last night, Texas came out with medium effort and almost let a far inferior Cornhusker team fight back for a victory. This makes two games in a row Texas did not come out with a passion to win. Its a little worrisome given the high stakes of games the rest of the year. Texas is going to have to stop playing up or down to its competition. 40 mins of effort last night would have resulted in a 20 point win, not one that came down to a last minute 3 pointer and free throws.
BONEHEAD MOVE OF THE YEAR... Goes to Connor Atchley on his ill advised lob to Justin Mason at the end of the game. Texas had an inbounds pass with 12 seconds left and instead of handing the ball to AJ Abrams, Connor decided to loft a lame duck that fell 10 feet short of Justin Mason and right into the arms of Aleks Maric. If it were not for a great hustle play by Mason to knock the ball from Maric and then get fouled on the scramble, Nebraska would have had a last shot to win or tie the game. It was a horrible decision and even worse of a pass. It is not clear what was going through Connor's head, but i promise Barnes will not let that happen again.
CONNOR'S POST DEFENSE... Was not good. Granted, Maric has an inch and 50 pounds on him, but Connor gave up tons of position and basically let Maric score at will. If Nebraska had gone to him all night, he might have finished with 30 points. While Atchley has improved on the defensive end, his lack of strength has allowed many posts to get great position in the low post. Many times Connor has been able to recover with a great shot block, but when a player as big as Maric gets that kind of position, he is not going to be stopped. Next season Connor needs to show up 20 pounds heavier. Until then, Texas may have to employ more zone (as they did last night) when facing a dominant post presence.
GAME MVP... Was Justin Mason. That guy is seeming to really get his role on the team and is starting to excel in it. Mason is here for tough defense, hustle plays and hitting open threes. His stat line last night was 7 points (2-2 from the field), 7 rebounds, 4 assists and the two free throws that iced the game for Texas. He is starting to become what Royal Ivey was to the Longhorn teams a few years ago. A do everything player, who doesn't fill up the stat sheet, but contributes in big ways to the team. His take away from Maric with 12 seconds left isn't going to show up in the stats, but it saved Connor's ass and secured the win for Texas. Mason may be the key to a long post season run for Texas.