AUSTIN, Texas — The 2023-34 basketball season is upon us with the No. 18 Texas Longhorns opening the season at the Moody with a 7 p.m. Central tip on Longhorn Network against the Incarnate Word Cardinals in Rodney Terry’s debut as the team’s official head coach.
Monday’s game could also mark the debut of Virginia transfer forward Kadin Shedrick, who was cleared last week after spending the offseason rehabilitating a right shoulder injury and is available against UIW. Freshman guard Chris Johnson was a game-time decision following an ankle injury sustained in last Monday’s exhibition win over St. Edward’s before he was ruled out 15 minutes prior to tipoff.
Points of emphasis for Texas include reducing the number of turnovers after 15 giveaways in the exhibition game and playing with unselfishness. Defensively, the Longhorns came out with a lack of focus and intensity against the Hilltoppers, contributing to a seven-point halftime deficit.
- Senior guard Max Abmas
- Junior guard Tyrese Hunter
- Senior guard Ithiel Horton
- Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell
- Junior forward Ze’Rik Onyema
Both teams missed their first four shot attempts before Hunter hit a three on an offensive rebound and UIW dunked an offensive rebound of their own after their fifth miss. Despite giving up three offensive rebounds before the under-16 timeout, Texas looked more active defensively in the early going than it did last Monday, including three blocks and a steal by Mitchell that resulted in a dangerous foul on a dunk attempt... and Mitchell missing both free throws. The Longhorns started to find some offensive rhythm in a long stretch without a stoppage of play as Onyema made a layup, Hunter hit another three, Abmas hit his first regular-season three for Texas, and Onyema made a baseline jumper for a 10-0 run to take a 15-6 lead into the first media timeout, at which point UIW was shooting 3-of-15 from the field.
Shedrick made his debut for Texas out of the break and quickly made an impact in a key area for him — securing a defensive rebound. The Longhorns continued to quickly turn defense into offense with a fast-break layup by Horton and a three by Abmas after a steal by senior forward Brock Cunningham, finally forcing a timeout by Cardinals head coach Shane Heirman down 20-6.
When Shedrick had a steal and dunk to extend the run to 19-0, Heirman was forced to use a second timeout that didn’t seem to calm his team down particularly, as UIW promptly stepped on the baseline on the ensuing possession and then gave up an open mid-range jumper to Texas sophomore guard Chendall Weaver on a baseline out-of-bounds play. After eight straight missed field-goal attempts, the Cardinals finally ended the long run by the Longhorns at the 9:23 mark by hitting two jump shots, including a three-pointer. By the under-eight timeout, Texas led 28-11.
In the first post touch for Shedrick, he showed off the left-handed hook shot that Terry mentioned last week, finishing through contact and converting at the free-throw line for a three-point play, using a similar move to draw another trip to the line, hitting his second attempt, and then blocking a shot on the other end, leading to a dunk by Mitchell on the run out, a run extended to 35-6 by a driving Abmas layup on the next possession, a driving dunk by Horton in the halfcourt as the Cardinals went through another fruitless stretch from the field, missing eight in a row, and a three by Cunningham.
At the under-four timeout, the margin was 41-14. Texas finished the half with a more quiet spell, a 7-3 stretch, to lead 48-17 at the break thanks to 54.8-percent shooting from the field, 38.5-percent shooting from three, and 20.6-percent shooting by UIW, which also turned the ball over 11 times. The Longhorns only had five turnovers.
With the game out of hand, UIW played Texas even to start the second half with both teams scoring 10 points, although the Longhorns had the highlight play — a fast-break dunk by Shedrick with Horton dropping the dime.
Five straight points by Cunnngham and a three by Abmas helped Texas gain an edge in the second half scoring margin with Terry surely using the stretch as an important opportunity to maintain intensity, although the Longhorns weren’t forcing as many turnovers or errant shots by the Cardinals.
The highlight of extended garbage time was probably a put-back slam by Weaver, who then forced a steal but settled for a missed three instead of finding Mitchell for an easy transition dunk.
The Longhorns closed out the win with a 88-56 margin, although the two teams essentially played even in the second half.