The Horns got off to an impressive yet slow start defeating Alcorn State 103-44 on Wednesday night. Their sloppy start led to a quick 9-1 deficit. The Horns turned the ball over twice in the opening minutes and failed to score from the field in the first three minutes. The young Horns settled down quickly though.
The rest of the game was an onslaught. Texas finished the first half on a 47-9 run. The Horns relaxed on offense and turned up their defense.
For the overall game, the most impressive effort came on the defensive end. Texas held Alcorn State to just 17% shooting from the floor in the first half and only 23% overall. The Texas D converted 24 turnovers into 36 points. They blocked a dozen shots (one away from a school record) and snagged 14 steals. The only weak point on defense was limiting second chance opportunities. Alcorn State secured 17 offensive rebounds but only converted those into 12 points. A better shooting team would have really hurt the Horns.
The Horns were equally dominant on the offensive end. Kevin Durant led Texas with 20 points on 8/13 shooting. After pressing a little on offense in the two scrimmages, he really let the game come to him tonight. He was able to consistently beat his man off the dribble and finish in the lane or near the rim. His jump shot looked much better also.
Both Durant and Abrams hit two threes shortly after halftime to further extend an already insurmountable lead. Durant's most impressive move was a one-handed reverse baseline dunk. He surprised everyone in the stands with his length. I was shocked that he was able to dunk the ball. His length and athleticism are scary attributes.
Freshman forward Damion James also had a nice game (13 points, 6 rebounds) in just 20 minutes of action. AJ Abrams fought off early foul trouble to finish with 13 points also. Matt Hill and Craig Winder were solid contributors off the bench. Hill battled down low all night. He had 10 points, 7 boards, and two blocks. I have not been a big fan of Winder but he played well and shockingly in control, for the most part. Maybe he will become the defensive stopper we were waiting to see all of last season.
Connor Atchley also played better than I expected. He was more physical on defense than we have seen in the past, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked fours shots. Even though he blocked a few, Atchley must work on staying on the floor. He tries to block almost every shot.
Point guard DJ Augustin got off to a shaky started but played well overall. In the first two scrimmages he turned the ball over once. In his first real game, he turned the ball over four times but also had some really nice assists. Augustin was able to collapse the defense with dribble penetration and kick to the open man. His interior passing was also impressive.
It was a solid but far from perfect opener. Turnovers and defensive rebounding remain areas of concern. But Texas looked really athletic. Their transition game is improving, they played excellent team defense, and all looked like they were having fun. The overall talent and, more importantly, tremendous potential of this team are obvious.
Remember this was the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. The Horns play Chicago State on Friday night in the second round. Chicago State beat St. Bonaventure 98-95 behind 43 points from 5'7" guard David Holston. The Chicago State / Texas winner advances to the semifinals in NY next Thursday night against Michigan State.
Next Game Friday: Chicago State 7:30 PM CST ESPNU