Texas Basketball: 3 big overreactions after win vs. OK State

Is this talented Texas basketball team finally figuring things out late in the regular season after two straight wins in the Big 12?

Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /

Tyrese Hunter is returning to his March form from the last two years

After junior guard Tyrese Hunter got off to a solid start to the calendar year, and to conference play specifically, averaging double-digit points per game on good shooting splits, there was hope he had turned a corner from previous trends the last couple of years.

Hunter had struggled to find his game in conference play with the Longhorns last season, averaging just nine points per game, two rebounds, and two assists in the Big 12. But a switch flipped at the right time for Hunter in late February and March that helped the Longhorns got on that big late-season run last year to win the Big 12 Tournament and make it to the Elite Eight for the first time in over a decade.

When he won the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors during his true freshman campaign at Iowa State two seasons ago, Hunter also had some big games in March with Iowa State. He had two games with at least a dozen points as a freshman in the Big Dance a couple of years ago to help lead Iowa State on a surprise run to the Sweet 16.

Something has just clicked for Hunter as a collegiate player when it matters most in the bright lights of the postseason. It's rare for any major conference guard to make it to the Sweet 16 once in their collegiate career.

Hunter has now accomplished that feat with two different teams, as he's been a part of five NCAA Tournament wins in just two years at Iowa State and then Texas.

It's been interesting to see the way that Hunter's game has evolved, as he's started to play better for the Longhorns in the last few weeks. He was up and down on both ends of the floor in late January and early February. But he's started to really come on with his defensive prowess and facilitating ability on the offensive end in the last half dozen games.

Since mid-February, Hunter has turned up the intensity with his perimeter defense to give this backcourt unit some much-needed grit on that end of the floor.

It shouldn't go unrecognized that Hunter has held each team's leading scorer (all guards he defended) at or below their season average for scoring while shooting under 40 percent from the field in each of Texas's last three wins.

Hunter also leads the team in steals and ranks second in defensive rating in Texas's last six games.

Texas doesn't need Hunter to be a primary scoring guard who knocks down shots at a high volume. Senior and Hunter's guard-mate in the starting backcourt Max Abmas gives Texas the effective and proven veteran scorer it needs on the offensive end.

Where Abmas's biggest weakness lies is on the defensive end. Hunter is a good guard pairing with Abmas for the very reason that he can handle those tougher perimeter assignments on the defensive end. Abmas's weakness can be masked on the defensive end while Hunter can thrive in more of a support role on the offensive end.

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