With #15 Baylor looming next Saturday and SEC play not far beyond that, it was the type of game we had to win. And we took care of business.
Let's break it down.
Depth is a beautiful thing
Before the season, we talked at length about the lighter load on our big three. Namely, the lighter load on Danuel House, whose first season on campus came with an "I need to play well if we're going to beat good teams" mindset.
That's not the case this season. We're still much more likely to win with an on-target House, but it's not a requirement anymore. Take yesterday, for example:
- Danuel House (7 points; 2-11 shooting)
- Jalen Jones (25 points; 8-15 shooting)
- Alex Caruso (13 points; 4-5 shooting)
- The Gilder/Davis/Hogg mega-freshman (24 points; 10-13 shooting)
Our best player didn't have it, and we still won comfortably. That's the mark of a top 25 team. Most college basketball squads have a good scorer on the roster, but that guy won't have it every single night. The groups that can rally and recover on their scorer's off nights are the names we'll see in March.
Good Jalen showed up
Let's take a quick look at Jalen's game log this year.
- vs. Texas (9 points; 2-8 shooting)
- vs. Gonzaga (6 points; 2-10 shooting)
- vs. Syracuse (23 points; 10-17 shooting)
- vs. FGCU (22 points; 8-14 shooting)
- @ Arizona State (6 points; 2-10 shooting)
- vs. Kansas State (25 points; 8-15 shooting)
The takeaway here is pretty clear: there does not appear to be an in-between Jalen. House will nab between 13-20 most nights, but Jalen does not appear to be wired the same way. It's all or nothing.
Last night he was locked in. Scoring from midrange, stepping out beyond the arc (2-2 from 3PT), and willing his way to the line (7-8 FT's).
Quick note: I don't love Jalen shooting from 25 feet. He's so much more effective down low (under 33% 3PT for his career), but last night was a heat check night. I get it.
It could have been a stress-free evening
It's time to get a little nit-picky... we didn't exactly display a killer instinct last night. Texas A&M clearly had the more talented squad, but we never really put K-State to bed.
- With 13:48 remaining, Texas A&M leads 43-42
- A&M goes on a 21-3 run over the next seven minutes, extending the lead to 64-45 with 6:06 remaining.
- Kansas State responds with a huge run of their own (21-7), cutting the lead to 71-66 with 1:06 on the clock.
We tucked them in, turned out the light, and completely caved when they complained and said they weren't sleepy.
On the ensuing possession, Alex Caruso sealed the deal with a great isolation move, and then re-sealed the deal by stealing the inbounds pass.
Game over. Aggies win, 78-68.
On a night where Anthony Collins was limited through foul trouble, Caruso was fantastic (13 points; 4-5 FG; 2-3 3PT; 9 assists; 6 steals; 1 turnover). I'm still not entirely sure we've figured out how to play these two on the court together, but we can rest easy knowing that the point guard position will never be an issue.
#15 Baylor comes to town this Saturday. It's a huge game, and we're hoping to get plenty of #HateWeek content going this week to get you guys ready.