Texas basketball went into Norman last night, struggled shooting the ball in the first half, but then recovered nicely in the second to end up with a 10 point victory that was admittedly closer than the final score indicates. One observation we couldn't help but make is that we are not looking forward to potentially playing seven more games against Blake Griffin. The freshman sooner is a beast down low who also has a great shooting touch and basketball IQ; and he may be a 4-year college player (although that's what we thought about PJ Tucker). For our part, we're hoping that pro scouts agree with this analysis from NBADraft.net which has Griffin as a 7 out of 10 in the category of "NBA Readiness." Go pro, young man!
As for Texas, the 3-ball returned to success in the second 20 minutes last night, as DJ Augustin, Justin Mason, and especially AJ Abrams came up with big treys to help build and maintain the Longhorns' lead. Gary Johnson began to show what a force he can be inside, and it's exciting to watch him and Connor Atchley play the post together when both are on their games. Their two styles are vastly different and compliment each other very well, with Johnson fighting hard in the down-low physical battles and Atchley playing more of an inside-out game. In other post news, Alexis Wangmene is going to be a force as soon as he learns to, um, catch the ball. And Sexy Dexy, as always, played awfully hard and gave Coach Barnes some good minutes.
But the one thing that was clear above all else in Wednesday's victory is that there will be two main keys to this team's long-term success: DJ Augustin and Damion James. When DJ is making smart decisions, not trying to do too much, and shooting the ball well, we look like a very good basketball team. Similarly, when James is a threat on the offensive end he is the big, strong mid-range and inside presence that Texas needs to compliment Augustin and Abrams on the perimeter. Last night James was not such a factor (1-6 FG, 2 pts), but DJ managed the game so well--Texas had a ridiculously low five total turnovers, only two from Augustin--and AJ's shot was so on in the second half that it didn't matter. But you can't depend on the deep ball to win every game, so we'll need Damion to look more like he did against Baylor last Saturday to have a chance in Austin next Monday against Kansas.