The Tyrese Hunter Show (Gonzaga win GIF Breakdown)

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Last Wednesday, Texas blew out second-ranked Gonzaga, 93-74, in front of a rocking crowd at the Moody Center, where they are now 3-0. Out of all of the impressive performances in that game, one player stood out the most: transfer PG Tyrese Hunter, who went off for a career-high 26 points in the victory.

He did it from all over the court: driving the lane, hitting from the mid-range, and sinking threes (5/8 from deep). Considering the outside shooting struggles the Longhorns suffered over the first two games, it was quite the relief to fans to see them step up and shoot 39% from beyond the arc. I’m going to illustrate what he did to score his points in the following GIF breakdown.

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Below, watch how Hunter pump fakes to get the defender off of his two feet, leading to an open lane. The scouting report on Hunter was to respect his ability from three, even though before this game, he hadn’t had a ton of statistical success this season from outside. However, when a player expands his game beyond the mid-range, it forces the defense to take that possibility into account. So when he fakes the three, his defender jumps, and it’s too late to recover. Hunter gets as easy a jumper as you’ll see against a team like Gonzaga, and converts. Two points for the Longhorns.

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In this GIF, watch how Christian Bishop distracts Gonaga guard Malachi Smith by getting in his way in a near slip screen at the top of the key, which in turn gives Tyrese Hunter space. The defense settles back on Timmy Allen, who backs down the defender Sallis until he sees the open Hunter at the top of the arc. By the time Allen feeds him the ball, it’s far too late for Malachi Smith to close out on the shooter, and Hunter makes him pay.

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Watch here how he uses the ball screen from Brock Cunningham to give himself just a bit of breathing room. Timme, expecting the drive off of the screen, backs himself up towards the basket in anticipation. Hunter realizes the space he now has after this, and decides to just pull up and shoot. Sallis, the other defender in the ball screen action, is still tangled up with Cunningham, and doesn’t have time to defend the shot. A mostly open look for Hunter results in another two points for Texas in a crucial stretch at the end of the first half, giving them a seven-point lead.

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Watch here as Hunter initiates offense in a pick-and-pop set with Brock Cunningham. Cunningham screens for Hunter and instead of rolling to the hoop, simply flares out to the three-point line, where he’s met by Drew Timme, who doesn’t really close out on him with any real urgency. Though Cunningham hesitates, which a player typically doesn’t in these kind of plays, he puts up a great shot and nails it, giving the Longhorns an eight-point lead with two minutes left in the half. Give Cunningham credit in this game as a whole; he played excellent basketball in his 12 minutes, scoring seven points and making multiple effort/hustle plays throughout.

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Nothing fancy here, just a straight pull-up from deep off the dribble for Tyrese Hunter. The Disu screen gives him a bit of extra room here, as Rasir Bolton gets caught up trying to get around him. When he’s unable to, Hunter sees that he has an open look, and knocks it down. Three points for the Longhorns.

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Here, the Zags go with a zone defense to try and stop the onslaught from the Texas offense, but to no avail. Tyrese Hunter punishes them again from outside. The wing doesn’t slide over quickly enough, leaving him enough space to hit yet another three, one of his five on the night.

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In another example of Texas’ attacking the zone, Hunter inbounds the ball to Marcus Carr, who gives a couple of pump fakes before finding Hunter after he slipped from the base line to just outside the three-point line. Rasir Bolton doesn’t find him quickly enough, allowing him to get up an easy three, which he again nails. This shot gave the Longhorns a 61-42 lead, and was part of an entire series of shots that broke the Zags’ backs.

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Here, Hunter finds himself wide open on the weak side of the zone. Carr throws a skip pass to him, and he fakes the three-point shot, guarded again by Rasir Bolton, who bites. Given this kind of space, Hunter takes it in and pulls up off the dribble to hit a mid-range jumper, giving Texas an 18-point lead. His ability to shoot from the outside opens up so many other doors for him, and by extension, the entire team on the offensive end.

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Here, Hunter shows off his speed by beating the trailing defender in transition. Though he bobbles the pass, he’s able to regain control of his dribble before scoring through contact on the bunny. He once again burns Rasir Bolton, who has to be tired of guarding Hunter at this point in the game.

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Overall, Tyrese Hunter has brought an entirely new dynamic to the offense this season that last year’s team severely lacked. Both his shooting ability (from mid-range pull-ups to three-pointers) as well as his skills when driving the ball give this offense an entirely new level of unpredictability when trying to scheme defensively. You can’t simply pack the paint and sell out to stop the drive, because he will be able to pull-up and hit shots off the bounce. You can’t double him because of his passing ability, and with the development of deep shooting from a more confident offense, this ability is only amplified.

This team has improved drastically over last year’s team in a multitude of facets, but you really can’t overstate the ability of Tyrese Hunter on the offensive end. Oh yeah, and he’s a pretty elite defensive player, too.