This one was close until it wasn’t and by the final buzzer, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns advanced to 2-0 on the season following a 80-59 drumming of the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks.
Early in the second half, UL Monroe has trimmed Texas’ lead to 41-37, but Texas exploded for a 39-13 run to secure the game with a handful of minutes still to play. For the ‘Horns, sharing the wealth was key, as all nine scholarship players got on the scoreboard and seven scored at least seven points. Tevin Mack led all scorers off the bench with 14 points courtesy of four perimeter connections, while Andrew Jones, Kendal Yancy and Kerwin Roach Jr., joined Mack in double figures with 12, 12 and 11, respectively. As a team, Texas shot 50 percent from the field (30-of-60).
Marvin Jean-Pierre was the only Warhawk to crack double digits in the scoring column with 13 on a 5-of-13 shooting performance. Travis Munnings and Jordan Harris each added nine points of their own, but did so by collectively connecting on only 5-of-25 shots, including 4-of-15 from deep. As a unit, Louisiana Monroe outrebounded Texas (43 – 41) by dominating the offensive glass with 17 boards, but not many teams win on the road after shooting only 30.4 percent (21-of-69). UL Monroe connected on only 8-of-34 perimeter heaves (23.5%).
Much of UL Monroe’s offensive ineptitude and shooting struggles can be credited to what was largely an aggressive Longhorns defense that was rarely out of position, aside from being stuck with guards trying to secure rebounds, which often resulted in Warhawk offensive boards. Even Shaka Smart was doing his best to get in on the action defensively.
Nothing to see here, folks. Just Shaka Smart playing some defense of his own against ULM. Ref had to push him off the court pic.twitter.com/M5MxqZSAal— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) November 15, 2016
Monday night’s victory was far from a perfect showing for Smart’s young Longhorns, but there were plenty of positives to leave with. The returns of Mack and Roach following suspensions proved to be a welcomed addition on the scoreboard, adding 25 points between them. Mack did most of his damage sharpshooting from the wing, while Roach efficiently attacked the rim.
It may not be the most evident with Texas compiling only 13 assists, but the ball movement was fluid and rarely ever stuck in anyone’s hand for more than a few seconds.
Texas’ rebounding looks like it will be a cause for concern going forward, but with Mack and Roach now joining a rotation stacked with freshmen that will likely improve with each game, it’s a small portion of bad on a roster that should produce much good.
Next up, Texas will host Eastern Washington before heading to Brooklyn for a Legends Classic meeting with Northwestern.