Connor Lammert struggled in Fort Worth on Jan. 9.
The senior forward missed all seven shots he took in a loss TCU, scoring a season-low one point and leading head coach Shaka Smart to say Lammert was “hesitant” to shoot the ball.
But that game seems a long way away from Monday night’s contest at No. 15 Baylor, where Lammert drilled two 3-pointers in the final six minutes to lift the Longhorns to a win.
“Connor earlier in the year was hesitant at times to shoot the ball,” Smart said. “Sometimes when you’re a senior, it’s about realizing it’s my time.”
Lammert is taking it to heart. The 6-foot-10 forward from San Antonio is currently on pace for his best year from beyond the arc.
But, when Smart replaced former head coach Rick Barnes last April, Lammert said he was nervous about changing systems, primarily on the defensive end.
“I wasn’t super familiar with what he’s done in the press,” Lammert said. “I think a shooter can fit in any offense.”
Lammert got off to his best start of his career this season. He averaged seven points while posting a 47.8 shooting percent on 3-pointers in the first six games, three of which where he scored nine or more points.
Then the scoring and the shots stopped. In a stretch from Dec. 15 to the Jan. 9 TCU game, Lammert’s highest scoring output was eight points once, while hitting just 31.4 percent of his shots and 18 percent of his 3-pointers.
Smart said hesitating to take a shot was Lammert’s biggest obstacle.
“He’s kind of had to learn that, ‘Hey, I’m 6-foot-10. If I catch the thing in rhythm, my coaches want me to shoot, my teammates want me to shoot,” Smart said, “It’s a good shot for us, and that’s my job.”
After TCU, however, Lammert did just that.
In his last seven games, Lammert hit double digits three times and knocked down 45 percent of his threes. He nearly helped Texas beat then-No. 3 Kansas in Lawrence with a career-high five 3-pointers, and had 15 points in
Monday’s wn against Baylor.
“Whenever you’re hitting shots, it certainly helps your confidence,” Lammert said. “I’ve got to know that and have that in my mind.”
But when it comes to giving credit to his recent turn around, Lammert is quick to thank his teammates.
“If each player on the court didn’t do their job, it wouldn’t free stuff up for me,” Lammert said.
In turn, his teammates are glad he’s making his shots.
“He’s been hitting a lot of big ones lately, so we really value Connor,” senior guard Demarcus Holland said.
Texas faces Texas Tech on Saturday, one of two remaining games against teams not currently ranked. The Longhorns fell 74-82 to the Red Raiders on Jan. 2 to open Big 12 play. Lammert hit just one 3-pointer and finished with only five points.
But Lammert said he needs to keep his confidence up to avoid a similar result.
“[Smart] is constantly got the coaching staff on board with me keeping my confidence up,” Lammert said. “Any shooter knows that you have a quicker trigger when you’re making shots.”