I think a lot of people saw the Texas loss coming. Maybe not to Nebraska, but look at things this way: Nebraska has been virtually unbeatable at home (16-1 on the season) and most importantly the Cornhuskers play very solid defense (especially in Lincoln). Looking back this game was very similar to Texas' blowout loss at USC, only closer. But regardless of claims made in retrospect, Texas needs to look towards the future. Texas needs to work out a few kinks, get Jordan Hamilton his shot back, and keep Tristan Thompson out of foul trouble. Texas' Big 12 dominance has been predicated on a crushing defense, but it needs to put up some points to seal the deal.
Tonight the Longhorns get a classic tune-up game before a string of games against bubble teams looking for blood. Iowa State has been absolutely abysmal in Big 12 play. Currently, the Cyclones rank second to last in conference efficiency numbers, barely being edged out by Texas Tech for the cellar spot (I have no idea how). Between homecourt advantage and the fire lit by Nebraska, this could be a very ugly game.
But this game isn't just about winning for Texas: it's about maintaining their one game lead over Kansas for the Big 12 title, a probable NCAA Tournament top seed and possibly a Final Four. The Longhorns gave up their highest effective field goal percentage at Nebraska and too many offensive rebounds. Tristan Thompson picked up four fouls in the first 12 and a half minutes in the second half against Nebraska, which drastically affected his ability to block shots and aggressively attack the offensive boards during that stretch. Jordan Hamilton did a good job of getting to the line, but he went 3-16 from the field. That's not going to cut it in close games on the road. He's been terrific this season, and a big part of his increased success has been better shot selection. Hamilton, when frustrated, has a tendency to start forcing up bad shots (a la last season), and it's when he's forcing things that Texas' offense is at its worst.
Look for Texas to make Thompson a focal point of the offense with Hamilton taking fewer, higher percentage shots tonight against Iowa State. Also look for the Longhorns to win big. The game is at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.
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