The Texas Longhorns overwhelmed Houston Baptist from the opening tip, building a 15 point lead in the first eight minutes of the game on the way to an 89-61 victory. Jonathan Holmes led all scores with 15 points, while Javan Felix and Connor Lammert chipped in 14 and 13 points, respectively.
But maybe chipped isn't the best word to use, as late in the second half Holmes broke a tooth diving on the floor for a loose ball. While I am sure it isn't much fun, the Texas junior can be thankful that dentists do good work these days. It took a minute or so to gather the little bits of tooth before play resumed.
Connor Lammert also put in another strong game. Lammert hit a couple of threes, blocked three shots, and grabbed nine rebounds. With both Lammert and Holmes hitting outside shots, the Texas offense is much more dangerous than it was a year ago.
As a team, the Longhorns went 11-26 from three point range, with Holmes, Lammert, Felix, Kendal Yancy, Martez Walker, and Damarcus Croaker all connecting from long distance. And though Texas scored 89 points, the total could have easily been higher; Rick Barnes' men were 18-40 from the free throw line. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, and Danny Newsome all struggled from the stripe, while the rest of the Longhorns combined to shoot a bit better than 70 percent from the line.
It was a game where Texas was able to do whatever it wanted on offense, while Houston Baptist couldn't do much of anything. Rob Lewis was the leading scorer for the visiting Huskies, with 13 points.
1. Javan Felix played well again, scoring 14 points on 4-10 shooting from the floor with only one turnover. The shooting percentage isn't going to be great very often, but so long as it isn't terrible and the turnovers remain low, Felix helps the Texas offense. And perhaps even more impressively, the sophomore guard is starting to cultivate a first-rate Amish man beard.
2. Freshman Martez Walker may have an unconventional stroke, but he can throw the ball in from deep. Walker was 2-3 from three point range, and also added a couple of dunks in transition.
3. Over the last several years, the Longhorn offense has been limited by poor shooting. But so far this season, Texas is killing teams from beyond the three point line. Holmes and Lammert are the two best shooters that get regular minutes, and in addition the three freshman off the bench (Yancy, Croaker, and Walker) all look like they can shoot. So while players like Demarcus Holland, Isaiah Taylor, and Javan Felix don't threaten opponents from the outside, and centers Ridley and Ibeh can't shoot, virtually everyone else on the team can hit the deep ball.
4. With his teammates having a good night shooting the rock, freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor earned six assists. It is yet another example of how the assist statistic measures shot making as much as it measures passing.
5. Of course, a game like this says as much about Texas' opponent as it does about the Longhorns. Houston Baptist is the weakest team on the Texas schedule. The gap between the Huskies and a team like Mercer is substantial, as should have been obvious to anyone who watched both games against Texas.
Houston Baptist is only a few years removed from playing in the NAIA, and last season finished 3-5 in the Great West Conference, a now dissolved league that was one of the absolute worst in D-I. With five teams only playing eight games each, the Great West Conference was hardly a conference at all a year ago, and certainly couldn't be called "Great." And with the New Jersey Institute of Technology as one of the league participants, it really makes you question the "West" aspect of the league as well. But you can't just call a league something like the "Collection of Loosely Affiliated Teams that Don't Want to be Independent, and Will Bolt as Soon as a Better Conference Offers Conference." (*)
(*Known as the CLATDWIWLBSBCOC for short.)
The Texas Longhorns are now off for the next week, and play again next Monday when they face BYU. That is going to be an interesting game.