In what looked every bit the part of a much-improved product, Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns opened the 2017-18 season with an overwhelming win over Northwestern State, 105-59
Just moments into his collegiate career, Mohamed Bamba scored the very first points of the season for Texas, providing the ‘Horns with a lead that mushroomed throughout the remainder of the game.
Mo Bamba's first points in orange pic.twitter.com/P1z3o9h4Zk— Ezra Siegel (@SiegelEzra) November 11, 2017
A quick 7-0 Texas edge climbed to a 14-2 advantage and then on to 24-11, as Andrew Jones’ sophomore campaign jumped off in a quick and convincing fashion with eight early points on the strength of two three-pointers and an impressive display of sheer athleticism.
Junior transfer Dylan Osetkowski proved to be difference maker for the ‘Horns early and often, as well. In what the early efforts reveled to be a truly versatile Texas team on both ends of the floor, Osetkowski was an embodiment of such skill, connecting from the perimeter, snagging boards, pushing the pace and even putting teammates in position to score.
Matt Coleman, another fresh face in Austin, was hindered by two early fouls in the first four minutes, but his presence orchestrating the offense provided an apparent night-and-day difference from last season. By halftime, as the Longhorns enjoyed a comfortable 62-27 lead, Coleman had notched eight points and three asissts without a single turnover.
The collective product was far more praiseworthy than the individual displays, though.
Along with Osetkowski joining five freshmen in the rotation, this is largely an entirely different Texas team and that was apparent on the court. The ‘Horns offense was efficient and explosive, providing an abundance of highlight plays in addition to converting on 10-of-33 three-point attempts and 21-of-33 looks from the charity stripe after each were glaring issues last season.
Similar success was replicated on the other end of the floor.
Smart noted on Monday that this Texas team has the potential to be elite defensively and the early indications suggest that’s a fairly spot-on assessment. Texas’ length, athleticism, and more notably, effort paved the way for an overwhelming effort en route to 11 steals and 8 blocks; many of which resulted in quick points on the other end.
NWST HC Mike McConathy: "The length of Texas today and the athleticism running was one of the top five I've ever faced." #HookEm— Joe Cook (@josephcook89) November 11, 2017
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Texas was 1-0 and enjoying a 46-point victory — last season’s largest margin of victory was 36.
As a team, Texas shot 49.3 percent from the field, thanks in large part to 23 assists on 37 made field goals. Coleman led the way in that regard, as his 11 points on just four field goal attempts was complemented by seven assists and no turnovers.
Bamba led the Longhorns with 15 points, along with eight rebounds and four blocks. Jones finished the night with 14 points, while Osetkowski and freshman Jase Febres each added 13 of their own. Osetkowski finished with a double-double with 10 rebounds — five on offense and five on defense. Kerwin Roach II and Jacob Young cracked double digits on the scoreboard, as well, with 10 points each.
Young capped the evening with the kind of statement dunk that the fans at the Frank Erwin Center enjoyed more than a few times on Friday.
What’s that? You want a Jacob Young dunkface to wrap up your night? pic.twitter.com/VPx7KVFoGD— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 11, 2017
Along with the massive scoring edge aided by seven Longhorns reaching double figures, Texas controlled the glass, snagging 48 rebounds for a 15-board edge. Texas’ 23 assists were hindered by only five turnovers, while forcing Northwestern State into 19 of its own.
The overall dominant display was the result of a Texas team that’s not only a more much talented unit than it was a season ago, but benefiting from more defined roles and pieces that complemented each other well in the first game of the season.
Next up, Texas will host New Hampshire on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. CT.
This story will be updated.