Posted January 23rd, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Feature, Live

Follow along live with 40 Acres Sports on Twitter and below for our thoughts and analysis during today’s big hoops match-up on CBS. We’ll be live right around tipoff for Texas versus [tag]Connecticut[/tag] so join us to discuss the game at 3:00pm Saturday afternoon.

Things might be a little less wordy than normal, but please feel free to leave comments and questions using the live tool, but not all comments will be published. Read below for more notes on comments and how the live blog will work. Hook ’em!

(continue to read full live blog …)


Posted March 1st, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Basketball, Feature

Harrison Smith had career night, but it came due to massive struggles from Justin Mason and Varez Ward

Harrison Smith had a career night, but it came due to massive struggles from Justin Mason & Varez Ward.

Stop if you’ve heard it before, the Texas basketball team is struggling. The Longhorns followed their huge home victory up with a close and ugly win over [tag]Texas Tech[/tag] and then a loss in Stillwater to [tag]Oklahoma State[/tag].

In both games Texas was sloppy on the offensive end. Texas’ main problem is their personnel combinations. The whole season hinged on [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] and/or [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] being able to play the point consistently. Both were given chances and both failed.

That inability forced another point guard into the starting lineup. And that is Rick Barnes’ dilemma, do you move [tag]Damion James[/tag] to the four and play the small guards and a big like last year’s team or do you bring Mason, your best perimeter defender, off the bench to keep James at the three with two big men.

The answer so far has been James to the four. The decision has brought mixed results, but I don’t think Barnes likes the decision. All offseason Barnes stressed getting bigger in the back court. Playing Mason at the three makes Texas one of the smallest perimeter teams in the country.

But what choice does he have?

[tag]Gary Johnson[/tag] is hurt. [tag]Alexis Wangmene[/tag] is hurt. [tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] has been sacked. [tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] can’t play over 20 minutes per game. And I’m not sure [tag]Matt Hill[/tag] still can play without his hair. Barnes has put more faith in [tag]Clint Chapman[/tag] as of late, but the sophomore is nothing more than a role player with some offensive upside at this point.

The fact is the Longhorns hands, or hooves, are tied. This is last year’s team without a superstar point guard who can shoot from the outside. For all intents and purposes that is like saying the Bulls were the same team when MJ was trying to hit curveballs in the minor leagues.

Barnes’ team has two conference games left ([tag]Kansas[/tag] and [tag]Baylor[/tag]) before the conference tournament. As long as Texas splits those games and wins their opening round tournament game they’ll get into March Madness.

Luckily Texas won some early games against big name opponents and Blake Griffin can’t handle contact or NIT would have been what this team had for supper.

There aren’t any great teams in college basketball. North Carolina, Connecticut, Duke, [tag]Oklahoma[/tag], and everyone else have shown the ability to drop a game they should win. That fact gives Texas hope if they can hang in there and get to the tournament. The Longhorns could be a bracket buster this year.

Maybe not.

AJ Abrams will need to more than score this year.

AJ Abrams will need to more than score this year.

Texas enters the upcoming basketball season ranked in the top ten and poised to make another successful tournament run. Rick Barnes wants his team to be tough and physical, winning games on the defensive end. This team may represent that more than any team he has had in Austin. The Longhorns come into the season with nine out of their ten man rotation from last year. The team only lost one player, but it might have been the worst possible one to lose. Point guard [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] now plays in the NBA and Texas will spend the early part of the year figuring out who will control the ball. [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] wants to play more point, but the team plays better when he plays off the ball and [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] runs the point. The addition of Turkish slasher [tag]Dogus Balbay[/tag] may provide the answer when it is all said and done.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect from the starters. We’ll look at the bench players in an upcoming feature.

Point Guard

[tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] – Abrams has already become the most prolific three point shooter in school history. In the off season the former McNeil star tested the NBA waters and what he found was that his only chance to make a living in the league is to become a point guard. Abrams is too small to play the two in the NBA, but he fits perfectly into the role at the college level. After thinking about making the jump, Abrams decided to return for his senior year. [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] has allowed AJ to play more point in the off season, but it is a position that AJ failed to play well at even in high school. It is likely that Texas will rely on a point guard by committee until someone steps up in the role. Expect Abrams to play the point more early in the season than he will as it gets into February and March because Texas will need him to do what is best for this team and not what will give him the best chance to get drafted.

Shooting Guard

[tag]Justin Mason[/tag] – Mason is the classic Rick Barnes guy. He is more junk yard dog than basketball player. Mason is by far Texas’ best perimeter and may end up being the guy that handles the majority of the point guard duty. He isn’t going to “wow” anybody with his ball skills, but he is a solid player that plays his hardest on every possession he is on the court. Mason fits perfectly into the style of play this team is going to have to adopt to be successful. Texas is going to have to dominate on the defensive end, rebound, and fight for points on offense. There is no doubt that the talent level at the lead guard position will take a hit with the loss of Augustin, but the steady play of Mason should provide the Longhorns enough ability to make a serious run at the Big 12 championship. Mason’s stat line isn’t going to blow anybody away, but he does so many things well he is going to be invaluable for this year’s team.

Small Forward

[tag]Damion James[/tag] – James made the transition from inside player to wing player last year and it could end up being the best thing that has happened to this team heading into this season. His freshman year was spent collecting rebounds and scoring put backs as [tag]Kevin Durant[/tag] dominated the ball. When Durant left, UT needed a big player on the wing. James made the transition with ease. He ended up being one of the only players in the country to average a double-double and enters the season on most people’s All-American watch list. James could up being the most important player on the roster. His play will be a huge determinate of where this team ends up. If he can continue to be a force on defense and the boards while keeping his three point percentage up Texas will be a nightmare match up for most teams. James has struggled creating offense off the dribble, but summer reports had him working tirelessly with Kevin Durant on just that, and if he puts it all together he will likely be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.

Power Forward

[tag]Clint Chapman[/tag] – Heading into the season most thought [tag]Gary Johnson[/tag] would start at the four. Against Stetson Chapman got the start. Chapman isn’t a better player than Johnson so the thought must be that Chapman compliments the starters better and Barnes wants Johnson to be his sixth man off the bench. Chapman is going to give you hustle, rebounding, and the occasional bucket around the basket. Barnes is not going to draw up many plays for the sophomore from Oregon, but he does have the skills to score if given an opportunity. The Longhorns need length in the front court and Chapman may give them more of that than Johnson. I wouldn’t think he’d stay in the starting lineup for the whole season as Barnes may look to change who starts at the four depending on practice and game performance on a week by week basis. Texas has a lot of options at the position with Chapman, Johnson, and [tag]Alexis Wangmene[/tag].


[tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] – Atchley was the biggest surprise on last year’s team. He provides match up nightmares because of his ability to step out and nail the outside jumper. Atchley also proved he could provide defensive help by leading the team in block shots. He isn’t the most physical player, but the roster has plenty of those. Atchley just needs to continue to do what he does best. He stretches the defense and has even worked on a sky hook. Barnes may trust Atchley more than any other player on the roster and with the loss of Augustin will look to the senior for on court leadership. Especially in the front court where there are talented, but young and inexperienced players behind him. Atchley is best suited to play at the four, and we may see a little of that if he is paired with [tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] in the front court. Texas’ most dangerous lineup would be Abrams and Mason in the back court with James, Atchley, and Pittman playing in the middle.


Longhorns lean more on Dexter Pittman for defense. Facing a much more athletic lineup than Stanford, might be a game where we need Gary Johnson to shine.


Posted March 1st, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball, Live

They really need to space these doubleheader games out better, it seems no channel does it well with either basketball or football. I guess they’d rather have games overlap and piss off fans than have to fill time between games. Either way, we’re once again missing the start of the Texas game and if it goes to overtime it could mean we miss most of the first half. We’ll have live opinions on the game as soon as CBS switches to the Texas versus [tag]Texas Tech[/tag] game in Lubbock.

First Half
  • Texas is up 4 to 3 early. Five minutes gone by but not much scoring so far.
  • Watching ESPN’s game tracker [tag]Alexis Wangmene[/tag] already has two rebounds. Getting more early playing time for the youngster.
  • I really hope this Georgetown player chokes on this third free throw. I don’t care about his trauma, I just want to watch the Texas game. Crap… maybe at least CBS will be smart enough to switch the Texas region to the game.
Texas 18, Texas Tech 16
  • Good. With 11 minutes left in the first half CBS has switched over to our game.
  • Texas Tech presses and it worked pretty well but after [tag]Damion James[/tag] breaks the press and Tech forgets to cover [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] in the corner. After struggling a little at the beginning of Big 12 play Abrams has found his groove and will kill you if left alone.
  • Nice to see freshman [tag]Clint Chapman[/tag] handle a pass and take it to the hole. Not sure about his form from the free throw line but he is nice and smooth just made two easy ones.
Texas 23, Texas Tech 20
  • Looks the Red Raiders are hanging around at least in part due to some lucky shots. They’ve had at least two or three shots go in on some crazy bounces just since I started watching.
  • Great pass from Chapman to James. Threaded in there right under the basket giving James an easy hoop.
  • Wow! What a block by Tech’s Martin Zeno. James was going in for a big dunk and Zeno does a great job swatting it away.
  • I like the attitude of [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] but he just picked up a technical foul with his mouth. Not sure what he had to say or who he was talking to.
  • I haven’t seen [tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] at all today, must have picked up early fouls again.
Texas 30, Texas Tech 26
  • [tag]JD Lewis[/tag] swishes a three and then I think runs down the court giving Tech’s Voskuhl grief. If Lewis had gone to Tech he’d have started/played as much as Voskuhl the last 3 years.
  • Pretty bad officiating again as usual. Zeno just flattened [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] who was standing with his hands straight up but they called it on Augustin. That call is missed pretty bad both ways though.
  • Big [tag]Dexter Pittman[/tag] still leaves his feet too much after the pump fake. He has to better job being under control on defense.
  • Not sure what the announcer is watching. Abrams took the ball to the top of the key, pump faked, and calmly shot a wide open three. I’m not sure how that makes Texas rattled on offense to have the conference’s best shooter take an open shot.
  • One of Tech’s many ugly white gguys apparently didn’t like the fact that he undercut a Texas player and then fell down. He had to be held back but no Texas players even noticed him.
  • Rebounding on both ends killed the Horns the last few minutes of the half. Gave Tech too many second chances and didn’t help themselves out at all on the other end.
Halftime: Texas 37, Texas Tech 41

(more …)


Posted February 11th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

We’ll be posting live thoughts on tonight’s Big Monday game versus [tag]Kansas[/tag] on ESPN. The Villanova-Georgetown game is running long. No idea if the Texas game’s start will be delayed or if we’ll just miss some of the game, maybe both.

  • Vince Young at the game. Hopefully he was around this weekend to say hello to a few recruits. Should be perfectly legal since he’s in classes this semester.
  • They’ve delayed the start of the game. As long as Nova-Georgetown doesn’t go to overtime it looks like we’ll see our game in it’s entirety.
  • I like that they showed us Rutgers versus Tennessee women’s highlights as if anyone watching either of these two games cared.
  • Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds is a former Sooner commit. They’d be pretty tough with him [tag]Damion James[/tag]. Kelvin Sampson really screwed OU over, but I guess they deserved it.
  • That’s a BS call with less than a second on the clock. Awful. I don’t think any of the players or refs knew how much time was left. I like it though because it means Texas-Kansas can get started.
First Half
  • Well they obviously didn’t delay the start of the game too much. ESPN just switched over and we missed three and a half minutes of the game. First three shots they show are two made threes by the Horns and one by Kansas. Based on the score there wasn’t much defense before we were watching either.
Kansas 12, Texas 15
  • Erwin Center sounds nice and loud. Some of my best sports-related college experiences were Monday nights at the Drum.
  • If [tag]Gary Johnson[/tag]’s offensive game can keep developing he’ll be huge for us down the stretch and in March.
  • After a play that looked like offensive goaltending by KU on the other end, rough call against Johnson for the offensive foul.
  • If [tag]Justin Mason[/tag] can continue to play great defense and now handle the ball handing on offense he’s suddenly a big asset for the Horns.
  • Ugh. How do you call that foul on Mason? If anything the Kansas guard initiated the contact and Mason kept his hands to himself.
  • Better ball movement on offense for the Horns. With [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] playing off the ball, he and [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag] are all over the place trying to create offensive chances. Everybody looks more active.
Kansas 18, Texas 20
  • Mason out, let’s see how much standing around there is on offense. No reason we can’t keep up the good off the ball movement.
  • That’s the second time tonight Abrams has had a great steal. Kid has quick hands to go with his quick shot.
  • Looks like the refs are allowing tons of contact against Augustin when he initiates it. Now that he’s back at the point he seems to be more out of control than earlier.
Kansas 28, Texas 29
  • Kansas scores but ESPN still hasn’t given them the points. Or maybe they had 26 and not 28, I’m old and blind.
  • Aaron Ross at the game as well sitting with Mack Brown. I think Ross is in school this semester as well.
Kansas 35, Texas 33
  • [tag]Connor Atchley[/tag] is nails from three again. He’s four of four on the night. After he and Abrams were nailing everything we suddenly went away from both of them in our offense.
  • Damion James picked up two quick fouls. I was wondering why he hadn’t played at all since we picked up the game.
  • Kansas seems to have five guys on the court at all times that can score and create for themselves.
  • Ouch. Johnson looks like he’s in serious pain. Is he bleeding? I don’t care how uncomfortable those masks are the kid needs to wear one to protect the nose.
Kansas 41, Texas 38
  • I don’t know how [tag]Rick Barnes[/tag] doesn’t give himself a heart attack and a hernia every nigh yelling at the officials. I know it’s a tough job but hell it’s one of the most frustrating things to watch when refs are seemingly making things up as they go along.
  • Sigh. [tag]Clint Chapman[/tag] looks like he has my hands. Kid doesn’t look like he could catch a cold sometimes. He has to expect the ball at anytime.
Halftime: Kansas 42, Texas 38

(more …)


Posted February 10th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Basketball

The Texas basketball team has struggled for four straight games, particularly shooting the ball, but on the bright side they’ve won three of those contests. Saturday afternoon the team came from behind again in the second half and then finished off the [tag]Iowa State[/tag] Cyclones 71-65 in overtime (video highlights).

Neither team played well on the offensive end in the first half, but thanks to their big men controlling the paint the Cyclones held a four point lead going into the locker room. All-American point guard [tag]DJ Augustin[/tag] putting the ball through the hoop all game long. On the few occasions in the first twenty minutes when a Texas big man had a scoring chance, they either fumbled the ball away ([tag]Clint Chapman[/tag]) or they missed makeable shots (everyone).

The Horns got off to a horrid start in the second half, it took the guys nearly five minutes to make two buckets. The slow start allowed Iowa State to build up a double digit lead that they held going into the final ten minutes. At that point they handed over point duties again to [tag]Justin Mason[/tag], allowing Augustin a chance to create off the ball both for himself and [tag]AJ Abrams[/tag]. Abrams’ shooting carried the team all game long, his seven threes were the only thing that kept the team in it. Texas was able to get some timely buckets from [tag]Gary Johnson[/tag], Abrams, and Augustin to eventually close the gap and send the game to overtime. They had a chance to win it in regulation but couldn’t get a decent shot off in the final seconds.

In overtime, Iowa State couldn’t buy a basket. Their only points from the floor came with 14 seconds left when the game was essentially over. Texas was able to get key buckets from Abrams and Augustin and hit their free throws to seal the win. The 12th ranked Longhorns are now 19-4 on the season and improve to 6-2 in Big 12 play.

Player of the Game: AJ Abrams, 25 points, 7/10 on 3-pointers

Next Game: 8pm Monday vs. #5 Kansas, Erwin Center, TV: ESPN


Rookie Clint Chapman exhausts himself for game’s sake. Good thing he’s a hard worker because he’s a skinny SOB.


With no more Kevin Durant, Horns expecting inside help. Will be fun to watch Chapman and Wangmene develop this season.

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