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#4 Horns Improve to 8-0

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Game Recap: A strong first half and solid full court pressure helped the Longhorns improve to 8-0 with a 88-72 victory over a good North Texas team. The Horns looked very confident and very sharp from the opening tip. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first four minutes behind 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Pressure defense also forced UNT into turnovers in their first three possessions and into ten total in the first ten minutes of the game. The Mean Green eventually settled down, but the hot shooting of Texas continued and the Horns led 48-26 at halftime.

The defensive effort in the second half was severely lacking. UNT went on an 18-3 run to cut a onetime 24 point lead to just nine at 64-55. Texas picked up the effort on both ends over the final eight minutes which led to the eventual 16 point win.

The 8-0 start is the best start by a Texas team since 1981-82 when the Longhorns started 14-0.

The outcome was: Satisfying. As mentioned in the game preview, North Texas is not a cupcake. The Mean Green have some really talented players and should challenge for the Sun Belt title and have a legitimate shot to get back to the NCAAs. After learning that the Longhorns were delayed for six hours in LA following the UCLA game and didn’t get back into Austin until 9 am on Monday morning, the outcome is even more satisfying. Other than about an eight minute stretch in the second half, Texas dominated the basketball game.

The Offensive MVP was: DJ Augustin This category may become quite repetitive this season. Even when another Horn has more outstanding individual numbers, it will likely be because Augustin created those opportunities. Tonight, though, DJ was simply outstanding creating and finishing. Augustin scored 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished out 10 assists. He is reading the high screen and roll beautifully. When he is able to turn the corner, he is getting into the paint and finishing near the rim. When he is held up and doubled with the ball, he is finding Connor Atchley for the three ball or simply dribbling backwards and restarting the offense. It is this kind of steadiness that should get DJ in the discussion for national player of the year if the Horns’ success continues.

The Defensive MVP was: The 1st Half Full Court Pressure. Knowing that the Mean Green have had trouble with turnovers this season, Coach Barnes had the Horns start the game in a full court 2-2-1 trapping defense. UNT struggled mightily. They didn’t get a shot off in their first three possessions and were down by double digits before the first television timeout. For the game, Texas forced 21 turnovers and dominated the points off turnovers 25-4.

The Freshman Evaluation tonight was: Acceptable. WingMan was credited with two points, three rebounds, and a block in 12 minutes of action. Alexis took an impressive charge as he left his man and gained position across the lane as UNT lobbed a post entry pass over Atchley. Chap was really active on the glass during his 10 minutes on the floor. He grabbed six rebounds, including four offensive, but wasn’t able to convert the putbacks. Chapman needs to go up stronger and try to finish by going toward the rim instead of relying on a three-foot fade-away jumper. At this point in the season, these two are the first two off the bench and are contributing solidly when Damion James and Atchley need a break.

Dexter Pittman Watch: 4 minutes, 2 points (1/3), 3 rebounds, 2 fouls. This was not Dex’s best game. In his only action in the first half, he missed his only two free throws and fouled a UNT player on a made three pointer. His second half performance wasn’t any more memorable. Dex missed a couple of shots at point-blank range which led to an exaggerated rebounding total. It is not that impressive if the only misses you are corralling are your own. I will say this though, Dex seems to be the only post player that the Texas guards trust as each of them really look to feed him the ball during his limited minutes.

Three Things: (1) Josh White was the best freshman on the court. UNT’s White scored a game-high 29 points, including six three-pointers and single handedly cut the Longhorns’ lead in the second half to single digits.

(2) JD Lewis is no longer in the rotation. Until Gary Johnson is cleared, it appears Barnes is content to play without a backcourt sub. Lewis didn’t play for the second game in a row. With another potential blowout looming this Saturday, we’ll see if Barnes continues to develop Justin Mason at point guard instead of inserting Lewis at shooting guard when one of the three starting guards needs a breather.

(3) AJ is back. After back to back below average performance, Abrams showed up big. AJ was 9-of-19 from the floor for 23 points. The most impressive aspect of his scoring was that he only made three three-pointers. Abrams ran precise curl cuts which lead to easy jumpers from the elbow, and he made some nice ball fakes before taking the ball to the basket and finishing. As mentioned before, this team is much more dangerous when AJ is shooting the ball well. Tonight he was.

Box Score

NEXT GAME: Road at Rice (Toyota Center) – Saturday 12/8  7:00 p.m. CSTV