The outcome was in doubt for about a minute. Texas jumped out to leads of 9-0 and 19-3 before cruising to the rest of the way to a 74-54 victory. The #2 seeded Longhorns improve to 29-6 overall and will take on the #7 seeded Miami Hurricanes on Sunday. The tip time is 1 pm.
I'm not going to get into any deep analysis for this one; it just isn't necessary. Texas was better in all aspects of the game, and the size and talent discrepancies were evident from the opening moments.
Having said that, there were some very solid aspects in the blowout win.
Abrams was hot from the opening tip and didn't go cold the entire game. AJ finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Six of his makes were three-pointers, while he also mixed in a few mid-range jumpers and runners. Nice to see AJ find his stroke.
Pat Forde, of ESPN.com, pointed out a very interesting stat about the Longhorns in a piece earlier this week. When DJ shoots 16 or fewer shots, the Longhorns are 20-1. When Augustin launches more than 16, Texas is just 8-5. Today, DJ played very calmly, didn't force shots, and did a nice job of finding his teammates both on the perimeter and in the post. Augustin was 2-of-8 from the floor for six points but added eight assists. This team is so much more dangerous when DJ isn't asked to do all the scoring.
I have been really hard on Sexy Dex this season. I thought he was too slow on defense, too much of a liability in transition, and too off balance on offense. Well, today, Dexter showed up and dominated. Pittman carved out good position in the low post, showed soft hands, and punished the Governors after the catch. He was also dominant on the glass in his limited minutes. The box score has Dex with a first career double-double: 11 points and 10 board. Nice work, Dex.
Oftentimes, his effort and his effectiveness don't show up in the box score. Today was different. Mason nearly had a triple-double: nine points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Justin was so into the game that he was taking charges 35 feet from the basket when the 'Horns were up 20+ points. His effort on both ends was fantastic.
Overall, this was a solid effort by Texas. Barnes got great games from AJ Abrams, Justin Mason, and Damion James (10 pts, 10 reb), solid passing from DJ Augustin, and a surprisingly effective performance from Pittman off the bench. There were a couple of areas of concern, though.
Austin Peay grabbed too many offensive rebounds, most of which came off missed long jumpers. Texas is never going to have as big a size advantage as they enjoyed this afternoon. So, moving forward, rebounding is going to be even more important. The Longhorns also had some moments where they got sloppy with the ball (11 team turnovers) and lost focus. Against an inferior team like Austin Peay, it didn’t matter. But as the Longhorns continue to face tougher competition, the momentary lapses in focus will become even more costly.
Nice win, though. One down,..