AUSTIN, Texas — After two games at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Empire Classic, the No. 15 Texas Longhorns are back in Austin for a game against the Wyoming Cowboys at the Moody Center.
Despite a sold-out crowd at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for Friday’s win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, attendance at the first post-Thanksgiving basketball game, in terms of student attendance and that of season ticket holders, was suggestive of some holiday lethargy for a matchup without much appeal.
The positive for Texas, however, was the return of senior forward Kadin Shedrick, who was held out of the Empire Classic finale for precautionary reasons as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgeries. Shedrick’s last appearance, in a last-second win over Louisville, featured a career-high 27 points from the Virginia transfer.
Texas starting lineup
- Senior guard Max Abmas
- Junior guard Tyrese Hunter
- Senior forward Kadin Shedrick
- Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell
- Senior forward Brock Cunnngham
Shedrick looked comfortable back on the court early, taking an outlet pass from Cunningham near halfcourt and scoring a layup in transition. Other than Shedrick forcing three fouls on Wyoming, his layup was the only positive early offensively as Texas started 1-of-7 shooting to trail 3-2 at the under-16 timeout.
When Shedrick connected on a right-handed jump hook on the right block with 15:10 remaining in the first half, it ended a scoreless drought of more than four minutes that included seven straight misses. Abmas connected on a mid-range jump shot on the following possession and senior guard IT Horton then hit a three for a veritable scoring outburst.
A lob dunk by Mitchell from Horton was an early highlight for the Longhorns, who took an 11-7 lead into the second media break thanks to a 3-of-12 shooting start from the visitors. Two free throws, a layup in transition, and a floater along the baseline allowed Wyoming to tie the game at 13-13 with better offensive efficiency.
Two threes from the corner by Abmas helped the Texas offense show further signs of life, including one in transition when a rebound by Mitchell helped start the break, forcing a timeout by Wyoming. Out of the timeout, Shedrick turned a steal into a dunk on the other end and drew a foul on the next Longhorns possession on an attempted alley oop. A three by Cunningham in the corner was the fourth straight made basket by Texas and extended the lead to 26-19. Horton nearly made it five on a defensive miscommunication in transition before settling for a trip to the free-throw line, the first of the night for the Horns.
But Horton only made one free throw, Texas gave up an easy basket on the other end, and then turned the ball over trying to back a post-entry pass to Shedrick, although the Longhorns were able to head into the final media timeout of the half with a 31-22 lead, the game’s largest.
Shedrick’s hustle on a loose ball helped Texas secure an extra offensive possession he converted with a post move into the lane from the left block and a free throw for the three-point play. Two more free throws from Shedrick extended the lead to 12 and a block led to free throws for Hunter, both converted. With the clock ticking down in the first half, Abmas hit a contested three in the corner to beat the shot clock and send the Longhorns into halftime with a 41-26 lead after hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field to end the half and holding the Cowboys to 1-of-10 shooting.
Texas quickly gave up a three out of halftime, but Mitchell scored two layups and a dunk in transition and Hunter hit a floater to stretch the margin to 18 points. A three from Horton and a dunk by Hunter on an assist from Cunningham helped maintain the momentum until Wyoming scored seven straight points amid consecutive turnovers by Texas to cut the lead to 56-42.
Shedrick checked back in and settled the Longhorns down with a jumper assisted by Abmas, who hit his own jumper and was fouled on the next possession and completed the three-point play prior to a dunk by Shedrick on a pass for Horton. On the other end, however, Wyoming hit six straight shots to keep Texas from creating game-sealing separation even as the Longhorns shot well from the floor during that stretch.
When San Antonio native Brendan Wenzel hit a three to cut the Texas lead to 12 points, the Longhorns needed to keep the Cowboys from going on a run and responded with a jumper by freshman guard Chris Johnson and blocked shot by junior forward Ze’Rik Onyema.
After the under-eight timeout, the Horns continued the momentum when Abmas hit a three in the lane, a steal by Cunningham led to a fast-break dunk by Hunter, and a block by Shedrick produced a runout that Abmas finished with a banker through contact and a free throw to stretch the lead to 21 points, the game’s biggest deficit.
A putback by Shedrick extended the run to 11-0 before Wyoming finally broke it, but not before Texas fans started streaming for the exits at the under-four timeout. Into garbage time, the Horns produced two more good looks at the basket for Hunter and Mitchell and Mitchell hit a jumper to allow Texas head coach Rodney Terry to begin emptying his bench in the eventual 86-63 win.