A slow start sunk the Texas Longhorns in Sydney on Monday evening, as the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s NBL raced to a comfortable 88-60 victory over head coach Shaka Smart’s team.
The loss put Texas at 1-2 against NBL franchises — Australia’s highest professional league — and at 2-2 overall.
In the final game, sophomore guard Andrew Jones led the team with 18 points, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. Freshman Jericho Sims scored 10 points of his own to go along with eight rebounds. And, of course, the Minnesota native did what became commonplace Down Under — threw down at least one spectacular dunk, with his Monday highlight coming in transition courtesy of a lob from freshman point guard Matt Coleman.
Freshman forward Mohamed Bamba added nine points and seven rebounds, but committed three fouls in the first quarter that derailed his outing early. When he was on the court early, he wasn’t finding his game as easily as he did in the first several games.
On the defensive end, Bamba had a greater impact, using his athleticism and quickness to alter or block shots in a wide radius, a glimpse of the type of game-changing effort he’s capable of producing on that end of the floor.
As with the rest of the team, Bamba experienced some growing pains on his trip abroad, but the experience of going against professionals in Australia should prove beneficial for Smart’s team heading into the 2017-18 season.