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#8 Texas Pulls Away in Second Half

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Game Recap: #5 Texas overcame a slow start and the hot outside shooting of Texas Southern to defeat the Tigers going away, 98-61. The Horns outscored the Tigers 59-29 in the second half and got a double-double Damion James and solid play on both ends from Justin Mason to improve to 6-0.  

Coach Barnes attributed cold first half shooting and missing energy to two "tough practices" earlier this week. While the Horns were never in danger of losing this one, it was more interesting and a lot closer than I expected.

In the first half, the Texas defense looked like the defense BONers have witnessed at DKR over the last two years. The Horns allowed the Tigers to shoot 45.8% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc over the first twenty minutes. Texas led just 39-32 at half, as they had their own struggles shooting the ball. However, the second half was a different story. Texas shot the ball better (61.5%), dominated scoring in the paint (46-10), and capitalized on countless Texas Southern turnovers in the second half.

The outcome was: Expected. While the Horns were nowhere near as sharp as they were in New Jersey, they still got the won convincingly. This was little more than a mid-week scrimmage for the Longhorns as they now can turn their complete attention to #1 UCLA.  

The Offensive MVP was: Damion James. Even though DJ Augustin was the high scorer (20 points), it was James who helped Texas pull away in the second half. James scored inside and out and finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 1-for-1 from three and 2-for-2 from the foul line. It was more than just scoring though. James added 10 boards, four assists, a block, and a steal in just 28 minutes of action.

The Defensive MVP was: All five starters. Texas Southern did shoot over 40% for the game but they took 27 fewer shots than did the Horns. Why? Because they didn’t even get shots off on many, many possessions. The Longhorns forced 24 Tiger turnovers, 14 of which came of steals. Augustin led the way with four steals, Justin Mason (3), AJ Abrams (2), and James and Connor Atchley with one each. All five starters did a nice job of pressuring the basketball, anticipating ball movement on the perimeter, and jumping passing lanes.

The Freshman Evaluation tonight was: Decent. Wang Chung and Clint Chapman both had some trouble defending the dribble drive, but that it to be expected given they were both matched up with guards thirty feet from the basket. Wangmeme contributed four points and two rebounds in ten minutes, while Chap added two buckets on nice back-to-the-basket moves and grabbed four rebounds in his 13 minutes of action.

Dexter Pittman Watch: 9 minutes, 9 points (4/8), 3 rebounds, 0 fouls. Sexy Dex played briefly in the first half and scored one basket as he basically dunked his defender. But with Texas Southern essentially playing four guards all game, the match-ups were not really conducive for tons of minutes for Dexter. Barnes did give Pittman a chance to close out the final minutes of the game, and he made the most of them. Dexter scored seven points late as his teammates really looked to feed him the ball in the post. The smaller and lighter Texas Southern defenders didn’t have much of a chance.

Three Things I Think: (1) We need Gary Johnson. As long as Gary Johnson remains sidelined, the Horns are going to struggle defending the three point shot. Without Johnson, Texas starts three guards under 6-2 who simply get shot over the top of. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if our opponents are cold, but it will allow less talent teams to stay close to the Horns unless we are running our own offense at a top-notch efficiency.

(2) DJ Augustin is phenomenal. During the Tennessee game, Augustin was the best player on the floor by far, which included pre-season All American Chris Lofton. I commented in the open thread that DJ would be the best player on the court in nearly every game this season. I’m going to raise that evaluation. Augustin will be the best player on the floor in every game this season. Period. First team All American is attainable.  

(3) UCLA will be a tough matchup. As efficient as the Horns have been, their offense still centers on our three guards, and more specifically, on the penetration ability of Augustin. We still don’t know if Darren Collison will play for the Bruins, but play or not, Ben Howland will game plan to take away that penetration at all costs. If DJ isn’t able to get into the lane and create offense, who will step up? Second, UCLA’s strength is our weakness: the post. How will the Horns defend Kevin Love, Josh Shipp, and Mbah a Moute and keep the extremely physical Bruins off the glass? I liked our matchup with Tennessee; I don’t like this one.

NEXT GAME: Road at UCLA – Sunday 12/2  7:00 p.m. Fox Sports