Tristan Thompson played the whole game, but it wasn't enough for the Longhorns to take down #4 Pitt in the 2k Sport's Classic championship game.
It's safe to say I'm surprised by Texas so far. They might not have beaten Pitt, but they took the 4th ranked team in the country down to the last possession (before showing their youth with a bad look). That's after they beat a talented and experienced Illinois team the night before. Yeah, they have some flaws, but they look much better than last year (at least through four games).
Texas held all of Jamie Dixon's players under ten points except for Ashton Gibbs, who finished with 24 points (including some major clutch plays down the stretch). The Longhorns got almost all of their offensive production out of Jordan Hamilton, J'Covan Brown, and Tristan Thompson (28, 14, and 11 points, respectively). Surprisingly both teams struggled mightily from the charity stripe: Texas shot a smooth 18-26 (69%), while Pitt notched an ugly 13-24 (54%). I can't stress this enough: Texas needs to be able to convert from the line if they want to win big games.
A more surprising statistic came from Tristan Thompson: he played all 40 minutes. Coming off a game yesterday where he also put in heavy minutes, he had to be tired. I'm not sure why Barnes didn't sit him. Maybe he heard Dickie V lament the fact that if you were playing five guys and one wasn't Thompson you better be going to the Final Four. I'm not sure. Seems like a lot for a freshman right on the heels of another 40 minute game (thanks to the extra period).
Regardless, Texas showed they can hang with anyone. They'll get another couple chances to prove it next month with back-to-back games at UNC and Michigan State (December 18th and 22nd: mark your calendars). In the meantime, I suspect Barnes will be working on consistency on defense and making his offense a little more efficient--especially from the line. He might have missed his 500th win, but Barnes can't be displeased with his team's performance during this early season tournament. Now if he can just get them to keep it up the whole season...