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No. 5 Texas starts Chris Beard era with 92-48 win over Houston Baptist

Longhorns forward Tre Mitchell (33) pushes past Huskies forward Zion Tordoff (15) to get to the basket during the first half of the Texas game against the Houston Baptist University on Nov. 9, 2021 in Austin.

The Chris Beard era is underway in Austin. And from the looks of it, a lot of fans are interested. 

No. 5 Texas shook off some early butterflies, turned up the defensive intensity and slowly pulled away from a game Houston Baptist squad for a 92-48 victory. 

Talk about an impressive way to start the season. Texas (1-0) shot 64% from the floor and 56.5% from 3-point range. Six players finished in double figures with Courtney Ramey leading the way with 14 points. 

Over the previous six seasons, the Longhorns shot 60% or better only once. They shot 64.7% in a 66-point rout over UTSA in December 2015. 

When it was over, Beard invited all Texas students to come onto the Erwin Center floor for another group photo. 

Game ball

Give some praise to the Texas students. Beard made a huge push to convince and cajole anyone on campus to come see the Horns on opening night. They showed up. Beard said if the students sold out the 1,041 student seats in the arena’s lower bowl, he’d host a party at the UT Tower.

Students were sitting everywhere, filling the lower bowl to near capacity. They did their party. Beard and Bevo XV will gladly unleash their party planners on the South Mall.  

Horns up

One of the craziest plays of the night showed off the Horns’ athleticism and how they might be able to turn something out of nothing. With the shot clock winding down, Ramey nearly threw the ball out of bounds. But Marcus Carr was there in the corner to flip it back into play. Carr got it back, nearly got pinned but escaped. Then, Ramey ducked under a defender, fired a bullet to Christian Bishop for a layup within time. 

Horns down

This was a literal Horns Down. Houston Baptist’s Deshon Proctor corralled a rebound after a missed free throw and put down a dunk. Nice play. But as the players were running the other way, Proctor threw a two-handed “Hook ’em” hand sign pointed down. Officials immediate called a technical foul with 8:08 remaining in the game. Not exactly worth the equivalent of a 15-yard penalty, either. HBU was down 31 after Jase Febres hit the technical free throw.

Longhorns guard Jaylon Tyson (20) connects a high-flying pass with Longhorns forward Tre Mitchell (33) during the first half of the Texas game against the Houston Baptist University on Nov. 9, 2021 in Austin.

Inside the box score

The statistics that Beard cares about are on the defensive end. To that end, Texas had 10 steals, forced three shot clock violations and blocked five shots. Bishop drew a charge, Mitchell dove on the floor and plenty more were forcing the Huskies to change course. 

Houston Baptist had no qualms about going to the rim and challenging Texas’ length. Bishop had two blocks in the first half and Mitchell had another. But if the Horns are going to do all this work on defense, they need to get the rebound and clear out. HBU had five offensive rebounds in the first half for a few extra chances. Texas had just a plus-two edge on the glass at the break. It certainly helped the Huskies shot just 37.5% the first 20 minutes. 

Who’s next?

Bring on No. 1 Gonzaga. The Horns are headed to Spokane, Wash., this weekend with a chance to make a major splash. Tipoff is 9:30 p.m. Central time, about the same time the UT football team should be wrapping up against Kansas. 

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.