In the premiere non-conference matchup for the No. 12 Texas Longhorns, head coach Rodney Terry’s team was run off the court at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday in an 86-65 loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles and former head coach Shaka Smart.
The abysmal defensive performance by the Longhorns featured the Golden Eagles shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from three-point range as star guard Tyler Kolek provided the bulk of the scoring for Marquette with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the floor and 4-of-9 shooting from three while adding eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals, serving notice he was the best player on the court.
Guard Kam Jones added added 17 points with five made three-pointers for the Golden Eagles.
Texas shot 25 percent from the three-point line despite three of the team’s four made threes overall coming in the first three possessions of the game as senior guard Max Abmas came out red hot. Abmas shot well in sum, scoring 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting, but also missed his last five three-point attempts, turned the ball over four times and committed three fouls.
Abmas didn’t get much help — sophomore guard Chendall Weaver was the only other player to score in double digits with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in addition to providing a defensive presence with two steals and a block.
Senior forward Kadin Shedrick was a non-factor, suffering from foul trouble in the first half before finishing the game with six points on three shot attempts, two turnovers, and only a single rebound in 23 minutes.
Senior guards Tyrese Hunter and IT Horton both performed poorly, too. In something of a homecoming for Hunter, who grew up in Racine, the Iowa State transfer was 0-of-6 shooting with three turnovers. Horton was 1-of-7 shooting with three missed three-pointers and no other contributions to the box score other than a single defensive rebound in 14 minutes.
After the threes by Abmas to start the game, the Longhorns cooled off in a 1-of-7 shooting stretch.
Max Abmas got off to a scorching hot start tonight pic.twitter.com/uaaRmHB6Bq— Nash (@NashTalksTexas) December 7, 2023
Fortunately for head coach Rodney Terry’s team, Marquette only hit 3-of-10 shots, including 1-of-6 shooting from three, heading into the under-16 timeout as Texas led 11-7. But the break didn’t stop the Longhorns from continuing to abuse the rims at Fiserv Forum, going scoreless for five minutes until Weaver scored a fast-break layup, the only basket for Texas between media breaks in an ugly stretch that also featured Marquette only scoring four points.
Abmas got back into the action with a jumper and a layup on an offensive rebound by senior forward Brock Cunningham, who also hit a three to become only the fourth Texas player to score other than Abmas at the halfway point of the first half. At the under-eight timeout, the Longhorns were 4-of-15 shooting from inside the arc as Texas started 8-of-22 shooting and Marquette was 8-of-23 shooting with the rest of the team other than Abmas hitting only 3-of-14 attempts.
Three three-pointers made by the Golden Eagles opened up a nine-point lead with an 11-0 run as the Longhorns went almost four minutes without scoring, a streak broken with another layup by Weaver on an off-ball cut. Into the game for the first time, senior forward Ze’Rik Onyema threw down a slam and a block by Weaver produced a layup for Abmas on the fast break for a 6-0 spurt before the final media timeout of the half.
The Texas run continued as Abmas hit a contested jumper coming off a screen on a baseline out-of-bounds play, but threw the ball away after Marquette finally scored again, leading to a three by Kolek to stretch the lead back to six points in the critical stretch before the end of the first half. Kolek forced a jump ball on the other end of the court with the possession arrow favoring Marquette, the Golden Eagles made two free throws, and Abmas turned it over again before Kolek hit a contested step-back three to take an 11-point lead thanks to the 10-0 run that boosted Marquette’s win probability by about 25 percent after Kolek made another three before halftime on a broken defensive coverage by Texas to take a 42-28 lead.
Opening the second half, the Longhorns started out flat, missing four three-point attempts and shooting 3-of-10 overall as the Golden Eagle extended the lead to 26 points by hitting 8-of-10 shots and all three three-point attempts over the first eight minutes.
Things only got worse for Texas as Marquette went up by 30 points with no scoring stepping up to supplement Abmas and the defense proving incapable of stopping Smart’s team.
Texas returns to Austin to face another poor non-conference opponent on Saturday with a matchup against Houston Christian before a neutral-site game against LSU in Houston, the last chance to bolster the non-conference resume before Big 12 play begins next month.