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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup: More Notes On Texas

Back in the day it would take me days if not weeks to get over a football loss against the SCums from cross-town. I remember I couldn't read the papers or eat breakfast on Sundays following our losses against those clowns when those games actually meant something.

No such problem today. I haven't felt an ounce of sadness, frustration, anger from last night's game. It didn't bother me one bit. I has already been thinking about our coaching search, and also the big game our Ben Ball warriors will be playing tonight at Pauley.

If you haven't had yet, here were my early notes on the Longhorns that I posted on Friday. We have more follow up today.

Diane has a preview up in the LAT, which zeroes in on match-up in the back court:

Texas basketball this season is driven by its guards. D.J. Augustin, A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason are quick, strong and are not freshmen, which practically makes them seem like seniors.

They all are shooting better than 50% and Abrams and Augustin each shoot better than 49% from three-point range. They also are excellent ballhandlers, Longhorns Coach Rick Barnes says.

What they are not is tall. What they don't have is much of an inside game, and that could be a problem today when No. 8 Texas meets UCLA in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series at Pauley Pavilion.

The second-ranked Bruins have that inside game.

Each team is undefeated -- UCLA is 7-0; Texas is 6-0 -- and each has already defeated another nationally ranked team. The Bruins came from 13 behind while playing without point guard Darren Collison and sixth man Michael Roll to beat Michigan State, and the Longhorns ran Tennessee ragged in a 97-78 win.

That win over Tennessee was caused by the quick hands and feet of sophomore Augustin, who is 6 feet, Abrams, who is 5-11, and Mason, who is 6-2. To counter, UCLA has 6-0 Collison; 6-3 Russell Westbrook and 6-5 Josh Shipp. They, too, are quick. They, too, aren't freshmen. They can handle the ball. They don't shoot like the Longhorns' backcourt, but they aren't supposed to.
Abrams and Augustin, the two leading scorer gets lot of the attention. But don't forget about Justin Mason, who is probably the most physical (IMHO) of the Texas guard. I think his matchup with Shipp tonight is going to be a key one.  Mason lit up Tennessee with 21 points. So Shipp is going to be alert on D, making sure he doesn't get by him and disrupt his rhythm on O.

Coach Howland talked about "the mathcup nigtmare" in the backcourt:
"I want to know who has a better backcourt [than Texas]. They not only have [A.J.] Abrams and [D.J.] Augustin, but also [Justin] Mason. They are very hard to match up with because they shoot it so well from three. They make plays for one another. They are very, very good. Abrams was their second-leading scorer on last year's team. Mason is a very good player. He shot 40 percent from three last year, and Augustin was 44 and Abrams - who shoots a ton of them - he took 284 threes last year and made 42 percent of them. He is a great shooter with a really quick release. It's really going to be a matchup nightmare for us trying to deal with those three guards."
While we have talked a lot about the Texan sharp shooters in their backcourt, let's not forget about their front court. Bruin Basketball Report as usual has a great preview of tonight's game, which includes looks at the matchup in the front-court:
Connor Atchley (6'10, 226, Jr) is averaging 11.8 points and just 4.8 rebounds a game. Atchley's physical mismatch against Love is the primary reason the Bruin's will see a lot of zone.

If Atchley gets into foul trouble or is unable to handle Love inside, Texas does have some beef on the bench to march out against Love to expend their fouls including fellow Oregonian 6'10 240lb freshman Clint Chapman who played against Love numerous times in high school and AAU circuit.

Damion James (6'7, 230, So) is the other forward. Although he leads the team in rebounding with 8.2 a game, he is more of a finesse player. James is averaging 10.5 points on 51% shooting.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely slide to the four spot to begin the game although he'll play the three as well during the contest. Mbah a Moute is one of the Bruin's best defenders, however his rebounding numbers have been down since he's moved to the wing. It'll be interesting to see if his totals increase in this game based upon the match-ups.
BBR mentions because of the mismatch inside against Love, Texas will probably packing in lot of zone tonight. More on that from their preview:
Although Texas mixes up their defenses between man and zone, they will likely play a lot of zone against the Bruins who have a decided size and physical advantage inside. Similar to the George Washington game, expect the Longhorns to pack it tight inside to prevent UCLA's Kevin Love from getting many touches.

Love showed some frustration in not getting the ball inside against GW, however it was more a result of the packed in GW zone versus his teammates not getting him the ball.

While some might say the perimeter players need to do a better job in getting Love the ball inside, sometimes you have to take what the defense is giving you. Which means if Texas is going to pack it tight inside then the Bruins need to move Love to the high post to take advantage of his passing and shooting skills.
Bruins will need to show a lot of patience tonight against a physically talented and well-coached team. Getting frustrated against a team like Texas will not make things any easier. I imagine Coach Howland has been putting a premium on getting that extra pass in last few days to attack the zone. Moreover if the Longhorns spend too much time worrying about Love inside, it should free up a little space for Westbrook, DC, Shipp et al to attack the rim, while allowing Mata and AA2s to pick the garbage around the offensive end.

I imagine our guys know how they will have to fly back on transition, denying those guys from any opportunity from launching fast breaks (in addition to imposing our will in the rebounding department).

This is going to be a very interesting game. I am sure our guys can hear how a Howland coached team cannot play offense or cannot run and gun. I am curious to see what happens tonight if Longhorns dare us to run at them at Pauley. Should be fun.

GO BRUINS.