Shaka Smart and Texas beat Kansas State on Tuesday 60-57 for their first Big 12 win of the season.
Here are five thoughts from the victory:
Not the prettiest win
- Shaka Smart said in Monday’s Big 12 conference call that Kansas State was a gritty, tough team that the Longhorns would have to be ready for. The Wildcats also came into Tuesday night allowing 63.5 points per game, which ranked No. 3 in the Big 12.
Kansas State was just as advertised. The Wildcats held Texas to 39.6 percent shooting from the field and made it a slow-paced game. The Longhorns were able to overcome that with timely shots and stout defense near the end to clinch its first Big 12 win of the season.
Taylor has another big second half
- Texas came into Tuesday riding the hot hand of Isaiah Taylor. The junior guard was coming off a career-high 35 points against Texas Tech and was averaging 26.7 points in his last three games.
Taylor initially struggled against the Wildcats, finishing the first half with with three points and three fouls. But, like against Texas Tech, Taylor woke up in the second half with 14 points by being aggressive and driving to the rim. He ended the game with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Smart wanted Taylor to be aggressive, and he answered the call in the second, which was a big reason the Longhorns snapped their two-game losing skid.
Felix comes up big
- Senior guard Javan Felix has been quiet lately given how well Taylor has been playing. But Felix made a big impact against Kansas State with 14 points and four assists.
Felix was only 2-of-7 from three, but one of those came with 3:45 left to play to give Texas a 51-50 lead — the Longhorns never again trailed after that shot.
Felix has been one of Texas’ more reliable players all season, and, on a night when both teams struggled shooting, he came up with one of the biggest shots of the game.
Texas is going to live and die by the three
- Without Ridley, the Longhorns don’t have the ability to get an easy basket in the paint. Instead, Texas relied on its outside shooting against Kansas State, and it almost hurt them.
The Longhorns shot 26.1 percent from three against the Wildcats, making only six on the night. But some of the threes that Texas did sink came at timely moments. Felix’s three with 3:45 helped the Longhorns take the lead, and a three from junior forward Connor Lammert with 1:21 left pushed their lead to six.
Without an inside presence, the Longhorns will rely on their 3-point shot a lot more. It paid off on Tuesday.
Texas gets to the line
- The Wildcats may have gotten to the free-throw line 21 times, but the Longhorns countered by going 16-of-24 from the line. Texas’ ability to be aggressive and get to the line, particularly in the second half, helped it get back in the game.