Macon, Barford, and Gafford combined for 7 of 25 (30% eFG%) and had more TOs than assists. The rest of the team shot 48%. That might be one reason why we lost, but Thompson and Beard get thrown under the bus on the boards as soon as we put up an L. You don’t win tough road games depending on the role players to play lights out. It was definitely a team loss, and there was no obvious move that was going to make much of a difference on that night. Except for a few bright moments from Beard, Thomas, and Jones everyone pretty much sucked on both ends in that game. That’s how you have both your worse offensive and defensive performance of the season. It was a team effort. It happens. Move on.
Our O was almost identical to the UNC game in terms of optics and results. The UNC game wasn’t a slow paced game. We’re going to have to improve our halfcourt O. My guess is that it will be much better by March, but it’s going to have to start with Macon and Barford because they are the gravity wells that shift the D out of position. We won road SEC games last season that had possessions in the 60’s. Not every team is going to let this team run, and I warned beforehand that Houston was among the national leaders in denying transition attempts, not that I thought that they would shut us down to that extent at their size.
As for lineups, if we replace Beard, Bailey, and Thompson with Jones, Thomas, and Gafford, it looks like it creates a lot of imbalances to me. It’s basically putting our five best offensive scorers on the court to start the game. With Macon and Barford we already have our two best scorers on the court. Jones and Thomas add offense but weaken the defense. Likewise, they have 4 assists between them on the year. Beard has been our best ballhandler and is a better position defender than Jones right now.
Now look at what we have on the bench. Beard, Thompson, Bailey, Gabe, Cook, and Hall. It’s mainly defense and almost no scoring with our two leading assist guys. Remember the team came together last season with Macon as the sixth man. He wasn’t on the bench because the guys in front of him were better. He was our best all-around guard last season. Likewise, everybody wants to see Gafford on the court more, but he’s not seventh in minutes because he isn’t starting.
If Gafford picks up a couple of early fouls and the guards get winded, our rotation could have Beard, Macon/Barford/ or Jones, Hall, Bailey, and Thompson on the court at the same time. Most likely that would bring our offense to a screeching halt against a good defensive team.