Mark it 28, dude.
The No. 16 Texas Longhorns extended the program’s winning streak against the Texas State Bobcats to 28 games with a rather unconvincing 77-58 victory on Thursday at the Moody Center.
Texas senior guard Max Abmas scored a game-high 26 points in his best outing for the Longhorns, hitting 5-of-12 three-pointers and adding six assists while keying multiple crucial runs in a performance that often rated as tepid for head coach Rodney Terry’s team against an opponent without a win in Austin since 1937.
Four more players scored in double digits in what is becoming an increasingly-familiar storyline for these Horns with senior forward Kadin Shedrick and sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell also notching 11 rebounds apiece.
Texas missed five shots early and committed two turnovers in the opening minute before finding some rhythm, hitting six consecutive shots, including three three-pointers by Abmas to open up a lead that extended to 25-2 on a layup by Mitchell through contact that turned into a three-point play.
Meanwhile, Texas State missed its first four shots and nine of its first 11 attempts before making five in a row, including three layups, part of a 13-0 run as Texas went cold from the floor, missing eight shots in a row and going four and a half minutes without scoring as the game went into the under-eight timeout with the Bobcats only down 25-17.
The Horns had two more bad misses out of the break by Shedrick and junior guard Tyrese Hunter. Senior guard IT Horton finally broke the drought with a floater in the lane at nearly six and a half minutes, but Texas continued to struggle with the next media timeout marking almost eight and a half minutes with just three points scored on 1-of-13 shooting. And despite hitting the floater, Horton started 1-of-5 from three.
Shedrick hit two free throws, but then turned the ball over before sophomore guard Chendall Weaver missed a layup and Mitchell missed two free throws of his own. Mitchell responded, though, with a catch-and-shoot jumper, then started a fast break with a block that ended in his dunk trailing Abmas in transition.
With the clock ticking down on the first half, Shedrick drew a foul and a trip to the line with a baseline post move, converting both free throws for a modest 36-26 lead at halftime.
Texas senior forward Brock Cunningham dealt with foul trouble in the first half with three whistles against him in several minutes; freshman guard Chris Johnson didn’t have a counting stat other than missed shot in his four minutes, but was minus-10.
The second half started poorly with the Longhorns allowing two offensive rebounds before conceding a layup on the first possession by Bobcats, Shedrick turning it over on a bad that produced another layup by Texas State, two more layups, and then two threes as the visitors actually took the lead 40-38 behind six straight made shots and a 14-2 advantage in the second half as Texas head coach Rodney Terry called a timeout.
Cunningham missed a three after the timeout and Texas State rattled home a spinning shot in the post to further consolidate momentum at the first media break.
Hunter split a trip to the line and Texas forced a turnover before deploying a zone defense that resulted in a steal by Cunningham and a layup by Abmas on the fast break. A blown pick-and-roll by Texas State led to a Hunter dunk and Mitchell worked for a put back on a missed Hunter layup, but Texas couldn’t get stops defensively as the Bobcats maintained a three-point lead.
A dunk by Shedrick on a set run by the Horns on multiple possessions provided as much bite as Texas had throughout much of the game, followed by a strong contest defensively. The effort helped spark the Longhorns as Hunter made two free throws and made a layup on a strong two-foot jump stop in the lane, opening the floodgates as Abmas made an arcing layup in transition, converting the three-point play, Horton hit a three, and Abmas hit one of his own for a 13-0 run and a Texas State timeout with the margin at 62-50.
Back in a zone, the Longhorns had some success disrupting the Bobcats on offense as the offense performed well enough to maintain the lead into the final media timeout. Abmas made a three and Shedrick hit a layup on an assist from Abmas to ensure a monumental upset was no longer in the offing as Texas cruised to a marginally comfortable win.
Texas returns to the hardwood next Wednesday with a big matchup in Milwaukee against No. 3 Marquette and former head coach Shaka Smart as part of the BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle at 7 p.m. Central on FS1.