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Texas controls the game, beats Vanderbilt 72-58

Four Longhorns scored in double figures as Shaka Smart's team built and protected a comfortable lead.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where the outcome rarely seemed in doubt, the Texas Longhorns defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 72-58. Damian Jones led all scorers with 26 points.

The game got off to a lethargic start in the early minutes as both teams struggled shooting the ball. But after the first media timeout, the Texas perimeter defense started to take control of the game. The Longhorn defense controlled the Commodore offense in the first half, holding the coach Kevin Stallings' team to just 16 first-half points.

A key event occurred early in the game when sophomore lead guard Wade Baldwin IV collided with Prince Ibeh and had to leave the game with an injury. With Baldwin out, Texas' perimeter defenders -- most notably Kerwin Roach -- turned up the pressure on Vanderbilt. The result was an afternoon where the Longhorns stole the ball 10 times, and found chances to quickly convert in transition.

In the second half, the Commodore offense got on track, working the ball inside to its big man Jones. Jones was able to score over Prince Ibeh, which is no easy task. He is a tough player to slow down, as he has solid footwork inside and stays under control when he has the ball.

Also helping Vanderbilt's second half surge was Matthew Fisher-Davis, who can absolutely shoot the hell out of the basketball. Fisher-Davis was 5-10 from three point range, and scored 19 points, and it wasn't a lack of Texas defense that enabled his second half outburst. Several of his made threes were highly contested. But he is shooting 49 percent from three-point range this season for a reason.

Although Vanderbilt showed more life offensively in the second half, Texas was able to hold its first-half lead. The Longhorns were effective driving the basketball, and were finding ways to finish in the lane against Venderbilt's two seven footers. Texas' offense was balanced, with Roach, Ibeh, Eric Davis, and Isaiah Taylor all finishing in double figures.

Game Notes

  • Late in the first half, Shaka Smart went small, using Connor Lammert as the only big man on the floor. Texas was able to play four guards during this period in part because Demarcus Holland was aggressive going to the glass, and because Holland and Roach were hounding Vanderbilt's guards, and not giving up anything. This was easily the best stretch of perimeter defense that Texas has played all year.
  • While we are on the subject of guards who rebound, let's talk about Kerwin Roach. All year, Roach has gone to the glass, and this afternoon he came down with 11 rebounds, which tied Prince Ibeh for the game high.
  • More on Roach, who is balling right now: the Texas freshman followed up an outstanding mid-week game against TCU with another really strong performance. Roach seems to be starting to adjust to college basketball. At his best, he is an exceptional on ball defender who is a ball hawk (he had four steals today) when playing off the ball. And he is attacking the rim on offense with confidence. Today he was aggressive on both ends of the floor, all while finishing the game with only one turnover.
  • It was another strong outing for Prince Ibeh. Ibeh was tasked with guarding a future pro, and he did OK, all things considered. Jones was able to get into Ibeh's body some, neutralizing the Texas shot blocker. But Ibeh did some damage of his own on the other end of the floor, and made Jones earn his points.
  • Prince Ibeh was 5-6 on free throw attempts today. I almost feel as if mentioning it will ruin whatever is going on right now with Ibeh's sudden ability to hit free throws.
  • While the Longhorns were sloppy with the ball against TCU, there was nothing sloppy about their play today. Texas only turned the ball over six times, which was a big part of the reason why they never seemed to get into trouble in this game.

Texas heads to Baylor Monday night to face the Bears.