The #3 ranked Longhorns improved to 3-0 and advanced to the championship game of the CBE Classic after a 85-60 runaway victory over Iowa (1-3). Texas will take on Pittsburgh (4-0) on Tuesday evening at approx. 9 pm (ESPN2).
The 25 point victory is impressive as was the play of the 'Horns for three-quarters of the game. Texas bolted to a 26-13 lead after the first 11 minutes behind hot outside shooting by Jordan Hamilton and solid half-court defense. Unfortunately, the Longhorns lost their defensive intensity, failed to find the Iowa three-point shooters, and coughed up the ball over and over again over the final nine minutes of the first half. A running three pointer by the Hawkeyes tied the game at 38 at the break.
In the second half, Texas got back to feeding Dexter Pittman in the post, protected the ball, and rotated better defensively. The Longhorns dominated the second half, 47-22.
I don't have time for a full recap but here are a few quick points.
- This defense is absolutely dirty, when it wants to be. The Texas D focused for the first part of the game and was up 13. They lost focus and allowed Iowa to claw all the way back by half. Then, after a Rick Barnes reminder or two, the focus appeared again in the second half. Iowa once again struggled to advance the ball past halfcourt, initiate their offense inside the arc, or get a clean look at the basket.
- The Texas offense is at its best when it runs through Dexter Pittman on the low block. The Longhorns are blessed with a dominant big man, a rarity in college basketball, and we should use him, early and often.
- Jordan Hamilton can shoot the basketball. He was 4-of-6 from behind the arc and the principal reason for the early double digit lead. Unlike AJ Abrams, Hamilton can shoot over the defense and doesn't require the full participation of his four teammates to get an open look. As teams start to recognize Jordan's ability to pour it in from deep, the lane will be that much more open for Sexy Dex. I'm sure that Barnes still has concerns about Hamilton's defense but expect to see more of Jordan soon.
- Texas had five players in double figures: Hamilton (16 pts), Pittman (15), J'Covan Brown (14), Avery Bradley (11), and Damion James (10). This type of balanced scoring is exactly what this team needs. An off night for any one or two of them won't kill this team.
- Congratulations to Damion James for becoming just the third Longhorn ever to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds!
- The turnovers, especially the careless ones, bother me.
- Pittman, Alexis Wangmene, Gary Johnson, and James did a nice job all night helping protect the rim after the Texas guards over-rotated and allowed dribble penetration.
Post your own game thoughts here.