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At the buzzer: No. 8 Texas starts fast, finishes strong in smothering Northern Colorado

Texas guard Courtney Ramey (3) puts the ball up as he falls after a fast break ended in a collision with Northern Colorado forward Kur Jongkuch (15) during the first half of the Longhorn’s game against the Bears on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 at the Erwin Center.

Don’t ask Texas coach Chris Beard about the offense. At least not first.

“The story around here, guys, it’s what y’all see. It’s defense,” Beard said in previewing the Northern Colorado game.

The first six minutes of the Gonzaga loss clearly bothered him. So the Longhorns responded by coming out and smothering the Bears from tip to horn Wednesday at the Erwin Center.

No. 8 Texas won 62-49 in a fashion that was every bit as methodical as one might imagine whenever a Big 12 team meets someone from the Big Sky conference.

That kind of defense led to plenty of chances on the other end. Texas shot 41.7% percent overall despite a rather rough night from 3-point range (4-for-18). Nine different players scored while the Horns tallied 16 assists on 25 made baskets.

The Horns improved to 2-1 overall. The Bears are now 3-2. 

Game ball

Tre Mitchell was a dynamic scorer at UMass. He transfers to Texas and found himself coming off the bench the first two games. Beard moved Mitchell into the starting lineup against Northern Colorado, and the 6-foot-9 big man had a night. Mitchell finished with a team-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds.

Horns up

First of all, nice turnout by the Texas student section on a Wednesday night smack as the fall semester heads down the homestretch. The Texas marketing folks have made a concentrated push lure students to the arena. So far, it appears to be working.

Offensively, the Horns were probably too passive for their own good last weekend. They were on the attack this time around and spread it around. Timmy Allen had 10 points and eight rebounds, Christian Bishop (nine points, four boards) and Courtney Ramey (eight points) were all active. 

Horns down

Hard to nitpick when the Horns held the Bears to just 15 points in the first half. Northern Colorado also shot 41.9% overall and got some garbage-time buckets to juice their final score. 

Texas guard Marcus Carr (2) puts the ball up to score while while Northern Colorado guard Bodie Hume (13) defends during the first half of the Longhorn’s game against the Bears on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 at the Erwin Center.

Inside the box score

Texas played solid defense under former coach Shaka Smart. Indiana managed just 44 points against UT last season. The season before that, the season low was 45 points. The opponent? Northern Colorado.

Texas had 10 steals, multiple deflections and gave out plenty of grief. Ramey read a pass so well, he caught the ball like a tight end and got fouled. It felt like he was everywhere in the first half and had a team-high three steals. 

Who’s next?

Texas hosts San Jose State (1-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the second game of the Abe Lemons Classic. San Jose State next faces California Baptist on Thursday. Texas wil turn around and host California Baptist on Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.

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