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Longhorns use offensive awakening to overmatch Rebels 85-72

Mo Bamba was dominant as Texas basketball scored a key non-conference win by defeating Ole Miss in the Big 12-SEC challenge.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Score one for the Big 12 in the Big 12-SEC challenge after a dominant performance by Mo Bamba and the Longhorns.

Texas Longhorns basketball (14-7, 4-4 Big 12) earned a crucial non-conference win on Saturday afternoon, taking down the Ole Miss Rebels (11-10, 4-4 SEC) at the Frank Erwin Center.

It was a day that could have gone sour fast, as Bamba went down with a thigh injury around five minutes into the game and headed to the locker room with the ‘Horns up 10-8.

With Bamba sidelined, Ole Miss took advantage of a weakened Texas interior defense and fed the ball to Drake transfer big Dominik Olejniczak. The 6’9 forward went 5-5 on field goals with Bamba on the bench, all of which came in the paint.

The ‘Horns fell behind 23-20 halfway through the first half when Bamba re-entered the game. The freshman’s presence was immediately felt on both ends of the court, as the Harlem native altered a shot and scored a quick bucket.

This energy even led to Bamba getting a flagrant foul for shoving a jawing Marcanvis Hymon.

The ‘Horns broke the game open with around seven minutes remaining in the first half. Texas went on a 9-0 run to extend a 29-28 lead to 38-28. This surge was led by stellar play by Dylan Osetowski, as well excellent three-point shooting.

Osetkowski, a man confident enough to sport braids in his ginger mane, showed swagger not just in his hairdo but on the court as well. The Tulane transfer scored 13 first half points on 5-8 shooting, highlighted by a steal leading to an open-court dunk. He also added six first half rebounds, three of which were on offense.

While Osetkowski found success inside, the Longhorns also extended the Ole Miss zone by hitting some key shots behind the arc. Jase Febres and Kerwin Roach both hit two treys in the first half, Eric Davis added another, and even Mo Bamba hit his signature top of the key “no-no-no-yes!” three-pointer.

The Longhorns were up 45-36 at the half’s end after executing one of their best offensive performances of the season.

Ole Miss hit a quick three to begin the second half, but the Longhorns refused to let the Rebels grab momentum.

Matt Coleman and Mo Bamba added to their highlight reel by pulling off an alley-oop in a half-court set in the opening minute. In case you were wondering, Bamba was on the receiving end of the dunk.

Texas held a 53-45 lead with under 16 minutes to go, but the best was yet to come for the ‘Horns.

Shaka Smart’s team went on a 7-0 run thanks to a Bamba dunk, Osetowski long two, and Davis three-pointer.

Ole Miss broke the run with a pair of free-throws, but Febres hit a three for Texas to give the ‘Horns the 63-47 edge.

Texas never looked back as Bamba continued to dominate. The ‘Horns took a game-high 68-50 lead after Bamba was fouled on a trey and knocked down all three free throws.

The Longhorns finished with an 85-72 win in a game where the ‘Horns’ lead was really never threatened in the second half.

The final stat-lines for the Texas starting big men were stellar. Osetkowski finished with 17 points on 6-11 shooting and seven rebounds. Bamba, the star of the show, notched 25 points on 6-8 shooting, and added 15 rebounds of his own for his tenth career double-double.

Bamba’s career high 25 points comes just one game removed from notching a career high 24 points against Iowa State. The big man coming into his own has made Texas’ ceiling as a team feel much, much higher.

Texas’ guards were far from shabby as well. Jase Febres is continuing his mid-season emergence and hit four of eight three attempts for 12 points. Kerwin Roach is also making a huge impact following his return from his wrist injury, as “Snoop” scored 16 points on 7-12 shooting.

Next up for the ‘Horns is a tough road match-up against the No. 14 Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday night in Lubbock.