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Texas Longhorns Basketball: Horns Hold Off Long Beach State

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After briefly giving up the lead in the second half, the Longhorns pulled ahead and won 78-68.

Javan Felix played his best game of the season, scoring a team high 17 points.
Javan Felix played his best game of the season, scoring a team high 17 points.
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns did enough to win tonight but little more, beating the Long Beach State 49ers, 78-68. It was a balanced scoring effort, as five Texas players finished with ten or more points. LBSU guard Mike Caffey led all scorers with 23 points on 8-14 shooting.

Rick Barnes' team pulled out to a sizable lead in the first half, leading by as many as 15 points before the 49ers fought back. Strong transition offense and effective perimeter shooting were both responsible for the early Texas lead.

But Dan Monson's squad did fight back. Senior guard Mike Caffey did what he has done all season, going 4-6 from beyond the arc, and scoring 23 highly efficient points. Texas struggled with foul trouble in the first half as Holland, Holmes, and Turner all picked up two fouls during the first period. Perhaps as a result of this, the Longhorns spent much of the later parts of the half in zone. The zone defense didn't have an answer for Caffey, who shot the ball from all over the floor, finding (or creating) space for his shot.

In the second half, sloppy play got the better of Texas, as six turnovers in the first seven minutes allowed the hot shooting 49ers to briefly take the lead. But that lead held for less than a minute, as Texas tightened up its ball security, committing only three turnovers the rest of the game.

It was by far Texas' worst defensive performance of the season, as for the first time a Texas opponent scored more than one point per possession. LBSU managed 1.01 PPP against the stingy Texas D; the previous high was held by Kentucky with 0.94 points per trip. Most of the damage was done by Caffey, but his teammates chipped in to help from beyond the arc -- the 49ers finished the night shooting 40 percent from three point range.

All in all, the Longhorns played an incomplete game and struggled to contain one of the better scoring guards outside of the power conferences.

Notes:

--Something you don't see every game happened in the first half when Demarcus Holland prepared to shoot a free throw, but decided instead that he needed to throw up. He ran from the free throw line to the nearest trash can and then... the camera cut away. He would return a few minutes later, and hopefully in the future will lay off the pregame Earl Campbell Sausages.

--Javan Felix played his best game of the season, scoring a team high 17 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor. He also took care of the ball, turning it over only once, while dishing three assists. When Felix is shooting the ball well and staying out of trouble with turnovers, he is a significant asset for the Texas offense.

--The Texas ball movement was again crisp in the early going, but Rick Barnes' squad may have occasionally been guilty of over-passing.

--While he finished the last few minutes of the game well, Jonathan Holmes had a rough first half. Holmes was one of four Longhorns with three or more turnovers in the game, and he picked up a silly technical foul in the first half when his frustration got the better of him.

--Mike Caffey has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games so far this season, and was held to single digits in just 6 of 30 games last season. Caffey is an outstanding shooter, but he is more than just a catch and shoot guy. He is an unusual player in that he creates many of his own looks from three point range. Coming into this game, only 29 percent of Caffey's three point buckets this season were assisted, which is the third lowest rate in Division I among players with more than 20 made threes. On average, 80 percent of all three point shots are assisted. Tonight, two of Caffey's four baskets from long range were of his own creation.

The Texas Longhorns' next game comes at home against Stanford on Tuesday Dec. 23.