What started out as a back-and-forth affair against Alabama to conclude the Longhorns non-conference slate proved to be a fairly comfortable win down the stretch, as Texas topped the Crimson Tide on Friday evening, 66-50.
Alabama struck first blood by way of a John Petty jumper before a Kerwin Roach II jam opened up the scoring for Texas just seconds later. As the two teams exchanged blows throughout the early going, the lead continued to change hands with the Tide taking control 15-13 with 11:50 remaining in the first half courtesy of a Alex Reese three-pointer.
The lead lasted a mere 28 seconds and proved to be the last Alabama would own all evening after a Matt Coleman connection from the perimeter.
The Tide kept it close, however, and Texas’ edge was just 23-21 with 7:02 to play before intermission. But with Alabama on the brink of recapturing the lead, Texas executed to the tune of a 10-0 run and thus, a 33-21 lead with 3:37 before halftime.
Although Alabama would make its mini-runs throughout, as it did by building some momentum to enter halftime down 35-28, Texas flirted with a double-digit cushion for essentially half of the matchup.
After building its halftime edge by way of stifling defense, led by Mohamed Bamba and Roach, along with excelling in transition offensively, Texas enjoyed much of the same in the second half. With Bamba’s unfathomable wingspan putting a lid on Bama’s basket and Roach and Coleman defending Collin Sexton remarkably, the ‘Horns allowed just 22 second half points
This is just outstanding effort by the Longhorns. Terrific effort in Tuscaloosa tonight. pic.twitter.com/OeJsHftHYz— Ezra Siegel (@SiegelEzra) December 23, 2017
Alabama did find some life at various points in the second half, though.
After trailing 45-32, the Tide ripped off a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 45-39 before a Dylan Osetkowski floater stopped the bleeding entering the under-12 media timeout. Minutes later, a Petty three-pointer trimmed the lead to 49-44, but from that point on, it was all Texas.
After Coleman answered with a floater of his own, Eric Davis Jr. nailed back-to-back attempts from the perimeter, building Texas’ lead to 57-48 with 5:09 to play. After a minute of game time passed, a Bamba and-one jam pushed Texas lead to the comfortable variety at 60-48 with 4:06 to play.
Oh my, Bamba is showing out tonight. Now a career high 17 points to go with nine boards and four blocks. Undoubtedly his best game in burnt orange. pic.twitter.com/MZs8vVm3e0— Ezra Siegel (@SiegelEzra) December 23, 2017
As another minute passed, Roach stole Alabama’s inbounds pass coming out of the under-four media timeout before Coleman drilled a jumper just as the shot clock expired.
With Sexton hobbled with a knee injury and the Longhorns defense continuing to swarm, Texas cruised throughout the final three minutes of action en route to a 66-50 victory on the road.
Bamba led the way for the Longhorns with a dominant, two-way display, as the freshman finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Roach and Coleman combined for 24 points and nine assists, while Texas found quality production off the wing with Jacob Young scoring seven points and a trio of three-pointers giving Davis nine on the night.
Meanwhile, Petty led Alabama with 14 points and Daniel Giddens added another 10 points off the bench. As far as the rest of the roster was concerned, though, the Tide saw only 26 points contributed from everyone else, Sexton, Alabama’s leading scorer, being limited to just eight points.
With the non-conference slate now complete as Texas enjoys a three-game winning streak, the Longhorns will open up Big 12 play on Friday, Dec. 29 against No. 14 Kansas.