We're well past the point where people wonder if Texas is a good team. They've showcased, defense, athleticism and depth in wins against UNC and Michigan State – two teams replete with NBA-caliber players.
The question now is pinpointing just how good the Longhorns are.
We don't know yet. Neither does Texas coach Rick Barnes, who did the usual coachspeak afterward about being unhappy with an impressive victory vs. the nation's ninth-ranked team.
|Gary Johnson and Texas have displayed impressive defensive ability this season.
"I told them it's great. It's December," Barnes said. "I said if this is as good as we're gonna be, we're in trouble. We've got a lot of room for growth."
That's a prospect that should scare the rest of college basketball.
Yes, Texas (11-0) were at home for the Spartans and got the Heels to come to Cowboys Stadium. But consider that Dexter Pittman -- who hits the offensive glass for Texas at a rate slightly worse than DeJuan Blair did last season for Pitt – played just 12 minutes due to foul trouble. That altered Texas' offensive approach, yet they still managed an eFG% of 62.3. That'll keep Tom Izzo up at nights.
Or consider how
freshmenjunior Dogus Balbay and freshmen Avery Bradley and J'Covan Brown took turns on Michigan State's Kalin Lucas and hounded him into a miserable night. Eleven points on 3 of 11 shooting, six turnovers and 2 assists is also gonna keep Izzo awake.
The defense shouldn't be a surprise. Texas sits atop kenpom.com's adjusted defense rankings, and won't be giving up that spot anytime soon.
Barnes' teams also displayed its depth (eight guys played at least 12 minutes Tuesday) and got a big night from Damion James (23 and 13), who is making his case as the top power forward.
The major area for concern? Free throws. Texas was eight of 19 from the line and is hovering right around 60 percent for the season. Hmmm. A team killer D, good freshmen, hits the boards, yet can't hit FTs? This should familiar.
As John Gasaway tweeted, the 'Horns are essentially Memphis from 2007-08: Prohibitive D and hideous FT shooting.
Barnes would take that. After all, Memphis was one miracle shot away from an NCAA title.
But I'm not sure he'd want to play Kansas to get there…
If you followed Mike Miller on Twitter at @BeyndArcMMiller, you'd have even more insights into the 'Horns' win. Let that one cook your noodle.