#6 Texas (21-3, 9-1) pulled away from Nebraska (15-8, 5-5) in the second half in front of 11,307 mostly quiet fans. The Horns have now won four straight and remain in first place in the Big 12 by one game. As already noted in some comments, this was a game of two halves.
Nebraska shot extremely well to start the game. The Cornhuskers were down just three points at the break after shooting 50% from the field including six threes. I'm sure my memory is a little off, but I don't think any of those six made three pointers were clean. They all seemed to hit the rim at least three times before getting a lucky bounce or two off the glass and then falling through. That said, Texas wasn't executing well in the half court and despite getting ten more shots was being outrebounded.
The second half was a completely different story. The difference was Texas' defense. The Horns forced the Cornhuskers to shoot just 25% from the floor including an ice cold 1/9 from behind the arc. Texas also began pounding the glass. For the game, the Horns outrebounded Nebraska 44-33. Over a four minute span early in the second, the Horns went on a 15-0 run and never looked back.
Lamarcus Aldridge is back to his old self. As Bean noted, this may have been his best game. He was much more aggressive on offense securing low post position close to the basket. His hard work and his ability to stay out of foul trouble were rewarded. Aldridge finished with another double-double, 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Kenton Paulino also played exceptionally. Take a look at Paulino's line: 19 points (7/8 shooting), 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and only 1 turnover. Paulino has really had a great year. His outside shooting has been great. Since taking over at the point, the offense is more efficient, turnovers are down, and Daniel Gibson has become more effective as the shooting guard. In past seasons, Paulino's play has been laughable at times and mostly overlooked. This season, Kenton will be a huge key to our March success. Brad Buckman (12 points, 5 rebounds) scored early and battled throughout. Daniel Gibson (13 points, 4 assists) had a largely quiet game. PJ Tucker was in foul trouble for most of the game and played only 23 minutes. While scoring only six points, Tucker did have 11 rebounds.
Coach Barnes has made an effort recently to get more production from our bench. AJ Abrams and Mike Williams have seen action in the last few games even before the first TV break. AJ played an effective but unmemorable 22 minutes. Williams played a forgettable 11 minutes. He had two rebounds and zero shots. Williams didn't shoot mainly because he can't hold onto the ball. How Williams was a McDonald's All American I will never know. The rest of our bench will from now on be referred to as "a betting man's worst nightmare." The Horns were favored by 20 points. Texas was up 26 with just over four minutes left. After the next timeout, Barnes put in the whole second team. Three plus minutes of action and Texas wins by 19 and doesn't cover.
Texas will look to improve to 10-1 in conference against Baylor on Tuesday night at the Drum. After that we finish at Ok. State, at Kansas St. Kansas at home, at Texas A&M, and OU at home. 15-1 is a distinct possibility. Anything less than 14-2 would be severely disappointing.