Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Golden: What's Chris Beard's mean mug telling us? That he expects much more from Texas

The Horns are off to a 2-1 start.

  • Texas dominated most of the way against Northern Colorado after losing to Gonzaga.
  • UMass transfer Tre Mitchell scored 17 points with eight rebounds in his first start of the season.
  • Beard said he wants more than 32 good minutes from his team.

Chris Beard had the mean mug going Wednesday night in his postgame press conference.

The Texas men’s basketball savior — women’s coach Vic Schaefer’s fans are quick to point out there are two on campus — did come across as the picture of cheeriness following the 62-49 win over Northern Colorado. The Horns ran out to a 37-15 halftime lead with a suffocating defense, but the Bears made things respectable by game’s end by cutting into the lead at garbage time.

More:Jordan Whittington’s return gives Longhorns a boost going into West Virginia

Beard was very complimentary of an opponent that has one NCAA Tournament appearance since joining Division I in 2006 but did not look visibly pleased with getting outscored 34-25 in the second half. It was almost as if he was describing the other UNC.

Texas coach Chris Beard shouts directions to his team during the first half of Wednesday's 62-49 win over Northern Colorado.  The Longhorns improved to 2-1 on the season with a dominant performance, but Beard was unhappy with parts of UT's game.

Either way, the Horns are 2-1 and their new coach doesn’t really have the makeup to take a win as a win because he's all about winning championships. I guess style points do matter when you’re playing Northern Colorado.

More:Not lopsided, but definitely one-sided as Texas chews up, spits out Northern Colorado

Beard told us he wants more than a good 32 minutes from his 2-1 team.

His answers to the media were short and direct. The scowl was ever present. It appears he wasn’t happy.

“We got beat,” Beard said when asked about the second-half performance without mentioning that the Bears scored 11 points in the last 3:05 when fans were already in the parking lot in an attempt to beat the traffic.

Texas forward Tre Mitchell shoots over Northern Colorado defender Kur Jongkuch during Wednesday's 62-49 Longhorns win. Mitchell saw increased playing time after having come off the bench the first two games.

After Gonzaga big man Drew Timme put up 37 points on Texas in Spokane, we knew the Horns would come out with more energy, especially on defense, because Beard got after them in practice.

More:How to watch Texas football vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

They owned the boards (36-25) and put the clamps on NoCo guard Dru Kuxhausen, who entered the game with 15 3-point makes in his first 32 attempts. He didn’t even attempt a triple in the first 15 minutes thanks to suffocating defense from Courtney Ramey, Marcus Carr and others.

The bounce-back aside, Beard wasn’t too keen on hearing how a bad day at the office in the Pacific Northwest in any way impacted what we witnessed Wednesday.

“It has nothing to do really with Gonzaga. It's just our journey, right?” he said. “My tune hadn't changed. We are who we are. If everything would have gone well the other night and we win the game, that doesn't make us any worse or better.”

So it’s difficult to determine if CB was truly PO’d or if it was just a subtle message to fans, the television cameras and his boss Chris Del Conte — who was seated in the interview room after delivering a horrifically unnecessary vote of confidence to football coach Steve Sarkisian earlier this week — that basketball team has a much bigger goal set under his watch.

On the court, Beard mixed things up by flipping Christian Bishop, who had started the first two games, with Tre Mitchell, a UMass transfer who he sold on coming to Austin for this rebuild.

Texas forward Christian Bishop goes for a dunk as Northern Colorado guard Bodie Hume defends during the first half of Texas' 62-49 win. The Horns improved to 2-1 and bounced back from a double-digit loss to top-ranked Gonzaga. Texas hosts San Jose State Saturday.

After not starting the first two games, Mitchell rewarded the coach’s confidence with a nice breakout performance. He finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes, including a nice stretch midway through the second half when he gave us a look at what's in his bag: a workmanlike jump hook off the glass and a couple of face-up midrange jumpers.

PHOTOS:Texas men blow out Northern Colorado

Better yet, his teammates were looking for him, adhering to the old adage that it’s sometimes OK to play hot-hand basketball when a teammate has it going.

“We have more than enough intelligence on the team where it's like whoever's hot, we're gonna get them the ball one way or another, and it could be anybody any given night,” Mitchell said.

Of the decision to start Mitchell, Beard said the Longhorns don’t really have a starting lineup this early.

“I think in my mind, we have seven starters and some guys trying to crack that next rotation,” he said. “... We’ll change starting lineups from half to half. We're going to do everything we can to win the game.”

With only four players back from last season’s team — Andrew Jones, Ramey, Brock Cunningham and Jase Febres — he will continue to figure out the best rotation as the team works its way toward the start of conference play on New Year’s Day against West Virginia.

The mix isn’t what he wants right now, but these things take time. Jones, last season’s leading scorer, hasn’t found his comfort level with his new teammates and his shooting stroke continues to be off. After Wednesday's 1-for-8 outing, he has missed 20 of his first 27 shots and is 4-of-12 from downtown.

Ramey seems well-adjusted and he’s doing it with great energy on defense. Cunningham provided a spark off the bench as usual while Febres looked like a guy who will be really fighting for minutes because the tremendous amount of depth on the perimeter, though his ability (or inability) to make 3-pointers will determine how much run he gets.

Saturday’s opponent, San Jose State (1-1), comes in after a 76-62 loss to Stanford. The Spartans have been in a word, awful, over the last four years with a woeful mark of 20-93 dating back to the 2018 season.

New coach Tim Miles turned a woebegone Nebraska program into a competitive team that had not gone to an NCAA Tournament in 13 years before he got them there in his second season.

The Horns should have their way with the Spartans and enjoy a stress-free Saturday. A win is coming and I suspect we'll see more of Crabby Chris. That game face isn’t coming off anytime soon.