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Chris Beard going to toughen up No. 8 Texas whether the Longhorns like it or not

Texas looking to bounce back Wednesday against Northern Colorado to kickstart the Abe Lemons Classic

Texas coach Chris Beard directs his players during the first half of Saturday night's loss at No. 1 Gonzaga. “If you’re going to be tough, you’ve got to have a tough culture,” Beard said. “You’ve got to be tough every day. "

Texas coach Chris Beard would wrap his players in razor wire and force-feed them thumbtacks if that’s all it took to get tougher.

After Saturday’s loss at Gonzaga, he probably ate some, too. With a side of fried nails.

“That’s not our defensive plan what we saw on Saturday night,” Beard said Tuesday in a firm and undeniable tone.

Toughness is Beard’s calling card, not getting knocked on your keister. Toughness is getting in someone else’s kitchen, a hand in their face and never giving an inch.

However you’d like to define it, Beard clearly didn’t see enough of it in Spokane. That might spell a heap of trouble for Northern Colorado (3-1) on Wednesday at the Erwin Center. Motivation should not be an issue for No. 8 Texas (1-1).

Texas head coach Chris Beard gives instruction during an exhibition game between Texas and Texas Lutheran at the Frank Erwin Center on Nov. 1. Beard wants the Longhorns to get tougher after a loss to Gonzaga on the road.

Men’s basketball preview: No. 8 Texas vs. Northern Colorado

“If you’re going to be tough, you’ve got to have a tough culture,” Beard said. “You’ve got to be tough every day. You’ve got to be tough on the off day between a disappointing game and the decisions you’re going to make. You’ve got to be tough at halftime. You’ve got to be tough when you're taking coaching.

“You've got to be tough at 10 a.m. on a beautiful day in June when you’re supposed to go the weight room but the Guadalupe River is right down the road,” he added.

Beard is certain his Longhorns have tough players. “But that doesn’t make a tough team,” he said. “It has to be there every day.”

Beard was clearly stung how Gonzaga opened the game on 7-of-10 shooting. Most of that damage was done by one player, 6-foot-10 Drew Timme, possibly the best player in college basketball.

Gonzaga guard Rasir Bolton shoots while being pressured by Texas forward Christian Bishop during Saturday's game in Spokane, Wash. The loss dropped the Longhorns only three spots, to No. 8, in this week's AP Top 25 poll, however.

‘It’s our starting point’:Texas learns the importance of aggression in loss to Gonzaga

The Horns played far better in the second half. But they were in a 22-point hole with 16:51 remaining and couldn’t climb out. Texas guard Courtney Ramey, someone who’s never been afraid of hard coaching, knew how to translate his head coach.

“We just kind of played back on our heels instead of being aggressive,” Ramey said. “And it showed in the second half what we can do as a team moving forward, being aggressive.”

Part of Beard’s toughness means holding players accountable.

“Tre (Mitchell) is 6-9 last time I checked. I think he's one of the best players. He's got to play better,” Beard said. “And I think he’d be the first to tell you that. Just like we have to coach better.

“I think Brock Cunningham is one of the all-time tough guys in this league’s history,” Beard continued. “He’s got to play better. And I think Brock would tell you that.”

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme drives to the basket while being defended by Texas forward Brock Cunningham. Timme is considered to be one of the best players in the country.

Beard said whenever Dylan Disu (knee) is activated for games, which could be soon, the 6-foot-9 Pflugerville product will strengthen the front court. Ergo, Disu will strengthen Texas’ toughness.

“I don't think we're undersized. I don't think that's an issue right now,” Beard said. “I think the players that play minutes in games have to perform better, just like the coaches have to perform better, myself included.”

Northern Colorado features one of the game’s best 3-point shooters in Dru Kuxhausen, a transfer from McNeese State. He’s made 219 3-pointers in the last two-plus seasons combined. Beard called him an “NBA shooter” who can drill it from anywhere on the floor.

Bohls: Sentimental Chris Beard savors his first Texas win in men's basketball opener

It’s also the start of three home games as part of the Abe Lemons Classic, a tournament to honor the late UT coach. Lemons led the Horns from 1976-82, won the 1978 NIT championship and back-to-back Southwest Conference titles (1978, 1979).

“I never substitute just to substitute. I play my regulars,” Lemons once said. “The only way a guy gets off the floor is if he dies.”

He didn’t tolerate laziness, either.

“You can do one of two things: get me fired or transfer,” Lemons said in 1968.

Lemons was tough. Beard would appreciate that.

“We could look back and think, ‘Boy, we got better after that Gonzaga game,’” Beard said. “Now, we haven’t done it yet. But we have an opportunity to do it if we choose to.”

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