Not lopsided, but definitely one-sided as Texas chews up, spits out Northern Colorado
Fed up watching Texas football? The No. 8 Longhorns men's basketball team over at the Erwin Center are worth binging.
If you missed the first two episodes, the third Wednesday night against Northern Colorado was worth streaming. It had an intriguing plot twist in the form of a lineup change, more character development, a satisfying ending in the form of a 62-49 win and enough bark from the protagonist to keep you coming back for more.
But the overarching storyline should remain constant over each 40-minute episode — defense, defense, defense.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “The second half, I wasn't pleased with how we played. So, we've got to get a lot better.
“We got beat.”
Let the record reflect that Northern Colorado won the second half 34-25. Eleven of the Bears’ points came in the final 3:05 when the Horns (2-1) were leading by 20. But garbage time still counts on the score sheet.
Every second matters to Beard, who was in no mood to gloat despite an easy night at the office.
He wasn’t going to let his players off the hook after a subpar defensive showing last weekend at Gonzaga. The Horns started with much more aggression this time and never gave the Bears (3-2) a chance.
Tre Mitchell got the starting nod over Christian Bishop and immediately hit a 3-pointer after the opening credits. Timmy Allen got a steal, Andrew Jones grabbed a defensive rebound and Northern Colorado’s Bodie Hume threw the ball away for a turnover.
It felt like Courtney Ramey was everywhere. He intercepted one pass on the low block and was fouled immediately. It was one of Ramey’s team-high three steals; Texas had 11 when all was said and done.
Asked if that’s the kind of defensive effort he expects every game, Mitchell said, “Absolutely. That’s something that we expect from each other every single day. And it’s something that’s emphasized every single day in practice.”
Anybody think Beard took it easy on his charges the last three days in practice?
“We get coached every single day like we're about to play in the national championship,” Mitchell said. “And I think that's what makes us special because we have the coaching staff that pushes us and we have players that are willing to respond.”
The numbers weren’t lopsided, only one-sided.
The Horns went to work on the boards, finishing with a 36-26 rebounding edge. The more impressive number was Texas’ 15-3 walloping on the offensive glass. With so many second chances, it led to 17 second-chance points.
All that rebounding and hustle led to free throws. Texas was 8-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Texas shot 41.7% overall, which somewhat masked the off night from 3-point range (4 for 18).
The Horns had 10 turnovers. Any double-digit total is not ideal, but 10 is manageable. There were 16 assists on 25 made baskets.
Frankly, it was the first of what should be a string of nonconference wins during this five-game homestand. There’s a long runway for this team to take flight.
And maybe that’s why Beard is so dogged, so determined to keep pushing.
“To compete against the teams we have to compete against, 32 minutes isn't going to get it done,” he said. “You’re going to have to play 40 to win the games that we have quickly coming on the horizon. I thought tonight we played really well for playing 32 or 33 minutes.”
Texas students appear on board. There was a strong student turnout in an announced crowd of 11,083 for a Wednesday night game with the fall semester turning down the homestretch.
“Season ticket holders that didn't come, if you could give your tickets to people on the night you can't come we’d greatly appreciate that, too,” Beard said as a gentle reminder.
There are all kinds of challenges ahead.
Getting Dylan Disu (knee) into the lineup will bolster the frontcourt. He was the SEC’s leading rebounder before getting hurt last season at Vanderbilt. Getting more games under their belt and time with the coaching staff will help the Horns collectively jell.
“It’s early in our journey,” Beard said. “We’re three games into this thing. We’re 34 practices into this thing. But so far, so good.”