I just got back from the 77-33 drubbing of Samford. I love the Open Game Thread. I have a few things to add but will keep it short.
*Texas led 30-13 at the half and played only ok for the first twenty minutes. The Horns really stepped it up in the second half. Our defense was great. Samford had slower, shorter, and obviously whiter players, but they are still a tough matchup because of their style of play. We played solid man to man defense all game. The Bulldogs were forced into tough shots. Samford shot only 26% for the game and only hit 7 of 26 from behind the arc.
*Texas outrebounded Samford 53-15. Our athletic frontcourt dominated the lane. Lamarcus Aldridge had 10 rebounds, Brad Buckman grabbed nine, and PJ added another eight. Samford rarely sent anyone to the offensive glass instead concentrating on defending the fast break.
*PJ Tucker looked much better compared to last game. Tucker finished with a game high 22 points but more importantly played under control. Coach Barnes commented after the Southern victory that PJ was trying too hard to make up for lost time on the court. Tonight, other than a few errant passes, PJ was dominating. He hit open mid-range jump shots, played solid defense, and rebounded like a seven footer. Tucker's lack of height will scare away some NBA teams, but watch him one time and you will want him on your team at any level.
*Daniel Gibson had an off night and it didn't matter. Gibson picked up two early and questionable charging fouls and sat on the bench for most of the first half. He played better in the second half. Defensively he was impressive, but his jump shot has been off for two straight games. Gibson was 1-7 with all his attempts coming from behind the extended three point arc. Gibson must continue to feed the post players as he has been but also push the ball in transition and drive to the basket in the half court for easy layups. For Texas to be successful, Gibson must not rely only on the three point shot.
*This was a team effort. Even with Gibson struggling, Texas rolled. Barnes got valuable scoring from JD Lewis and AJ Abrams off the bench and consistent energy from Conner Atchley and Craig Winder. Texas is deep. For the second straight game, we played all eleven scholarship players. Barnes will not play everyone as the season progresses. Yet, it is promising to see the entire team can contribute in some way.
*We will be tested next week in the semifinals against West Virginia. The Mountaineers were one win away from the Final Four last season and are deadly from three point land. All four host teams advanced to Kansas City. Joining West Virginia and Texas will be Iowa and Kentucky. Next week will be two good early season tests for Texas.