For the first time in a couple of games, the Longhorns looked like a top tier basketball club. The ‘Horns dominated a decent Long Beach State team, 107-74, to improve to 7-0 overall. Texas got double digit scoring from six players, were not overwhelmed at the sight of a zone defense, and played consistently for the full 40 minutes.
Texas turned an early 11-9 lead into a 22-9 lead and never looked back. The Longhorns led 53-37 at half and by as many as 35 in the second half.
The ‘Horns shot the ball well from the floor all game, eventually finishing at 59%. Three-point shooting was not bad either, 39% (7-of-18) and free throw shooting was its usually horrific self, 53% (8-of-15). Texas controlled the glass 41-32, dominated points in the paint 62-28, and outscored Long Beach 17-6 in fast break points.
A few brief points before calling it a night:
- Dogus Balbay is playing his best ever as a Longhorn. His 11 assists to zero turnover performance was a joy to watch. He single handedly gift wrapped at least ten of Gary Johnson's 14 total points. Balbay still can't shoot, missing both his jumpers, but he is so quick and has such tremendous vision that it doesn't matter right now.
- The college game is starting to slow down for Avery Bradley (17 points, two assists, two steals). He showed flashes tonight of why he was the rankest as one of the top high school players in the country last year. The defense was been there since game one; however, he played his best offensive game of his young career. Bradley has a good feel for when to drive and when to pull up and uses the jump shot brilliantly to avoid charges and elevate in traffic. If the shots start falling, like they were tonight, look out.
More after the jump...
- Damion James and Dexter Pittman were both saddled tonight with foul trouble but were still effective in their limited minutes. James had 14 points and six boards in 19 minutes. Dexter added 11 points and four boards in just 12 minutes. It was nice to see the Texas offense still function when both of them sat.
- Barnes obviously put more in the offense in the last couple of weeks. Long Beach State played a fair amount of zone in the first half, with their assistant coach consistently yelling, "Pack it in!" when Dexter was on the floor. Most impressively, Texas did not settle. Jordan Hamilton (13 points, three assists, two boards, and two steals) did a great job attacking the zone off the dribble from the wing and finishing with soft runners and floaters. Bradley and Balbay were also aggressive against the zone. Last, the entire backcourt did a good job of still looking for Dexter even as the defense sagged.
- Hamilton was better tonight on the defensive end and was credited by Barnes after the game for working harder on D. When he starts to lock down defensively, his minutes will increase as Justin Mason's decrease. Jordan also showed better passing and patience on offense. He didn't just settle for three-pointers and his three assists to no turnovers is exactly what you want to see.
- As Bradley and Hamilton moved forward tonight as freshmen, J'Covan Brown did not. The 13 points, including 3-of-6 from three, and four assists are nice but the six turnovers in 22 minutes is killer. You can literally see Brown taking one step forward and one step back throughout the game-one dribble drive, one silly fadeaway three; one solid defensive rebound and push up the floor, one no look pass that sails out of bounds; one good but not great pass for an assist, one silly reach-in foul, etc. The upside is very apparent, unfortunately so is the youth. I also have to give Barnes credit here. On a different team or in previous seasons, Rick may have caused a player like J'Covan to cry mid-game. I don't see that type of anger from Barnes this year. He seems to have matured as a coach and isn't pulling players after each and every mistake. Sure, the stare is still there but I see more willingness to let players play through their mistakes this season, especially J'Covan. I like it.
- Depth, depth, and more depth. How about 61 bench points tonight? Wow!
- Matt Hill played in the first half. Clint Chapman played in the second. No redshirt for Chappy.
- Turnstile 6,082. Smallest crowd of the year. Sad.
Next Game: Home vs. Texas State, Saturday 12/12 3 pm Longhorn Sports Network