Chris Beard’s halftime talk motivated Horns, Vaqueros were ‘rattled, panic, scared, disjointed’
Horns (6-1) crank up the defense in the second half, go on 23-1 run as Vaqueros miss seven straight shots
This may come as a shock to some, but college coaches — gasp! — raise their voice. They yell, scream and cajole. Hey, whatever it takes, right?
Somewhere out on the recruiting trail, Bo Davis agrees.
No. 7 Texas had to be, shall we say, properly motivated at halftime of Friday’s game against Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
“I did say something to the team at halftime. Definitely,” UT coach Chris Beard said.
The Longhorns allowed 41 points in the first half. But they gave up only 17 in the second after Beard’s come-to-Jesus talk. The result was an 88-58 blowout before 10,865 fans at the Erwin Center.
“We just had to make the right decision, play defense,” forward Christian Bishop said. “It’s either you do or you don’t.”
Texas-Rio Grande Valley (4-5) shot 53.6% in the first half and trailed by only five points at the break. It was impressive as RayQuan Taylor had 11 of his 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. But the Vaqueros didn’t like some of the calls, apparently, and said something to the officials in the tunnel going into halftime, coach Matt Figger said.
UTRGV was assessed a technical foul, and UT’s Jase Febres hit two free throws before the second half began. A turnover in the open floor led to a Timmy Allen dunk, and Marcus Carr hit a 13-footer. After Taylor scored on a dunk with 16:06 left, the Horns had seen enough.
Texas (6-1) went on a 23-1 run as UTRGV missed seven straight shots. Xavier Johnson air-balled a 3-pointer. Donte Houston Jr. found himself in a double team with UT’s Andrew Jones and Brock Cunningham and threw the ball into the stands.
“Rattled, panic, scared, disjointed,” Figger said in describing his team. “Very discombobulated.”
Figger praised the officials but said the technical foul changed things. UTRGV shot 31.9% and had more turnovers (14) than made baskets (nine) in the second half.
“I knew what was happening,” Figger said. “We came out and we threw some punches, and the second half, they came out and threw haymakers.”
Figger figured that Beard would have an inspirational talk with the Horns at halftime.
“I thought Texas came out and played like a team that really got told what their head coach thought about them at halftime,” Figger said. “I worked for Frank Martin for 10 years. I know what some of those halftime talks are like.”
Beard wouldn’t give away any state secrets. Already this season, he’s come to postgame and lamented how well the Horns played initially only to fade late.
“To me, we just continue to be who we are right now. I think we’re just a work in progress,” Beard said. “You know, until we get to where we can play 40 minutes, we’re not going to have the outcome that we all want to have in the games that are coming up.”
Everyone is expected to give maximum effort. Coaches praised “Hawaiian shirt guy” on UT social media for his cheering effort during Monday’s Sam Houston game at Gregory Gym. The UT student almost didn’t make the game Friday. Alas, he was there, same burnt orange Hawaiian-style shirt and all.
“We nipped that,” Beard said. “He made his own decision through a little bit of positive criticism.”
Enough about the stick. Who nibbled on the carrot?
Bishop sure looked energized, getting a team-high 17 points and went 9-for-9 at the free-throw line. He scored on a nice put-back during UT’s big second-half run and scored off a sweet pass from Carr (11 points, four assists).
Andrew Jones plucked the ball out of midair in the open floor and got rewarded with a clean look at a 3-pointer off the wing. That swished true. Allen hit two layups, the second of which gave Texas a 79-46 lead with more than eight minutes remaining. Allen finished with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Tre Mitchell had 13 points and five rebounds. That wasn’t nearly as impressive as his passing. Four of Mitchell’s five assists came in the opening minutes. The 6-fo9 big man was wheeling and dealing as Texas jumped out to a 16-8 lead. Mitchell’s five assists tied his career high.
“We don’t have big guys that all they do is play on the block,” Beard said. “We’ve got guys who can play all over the floor.”
Even when the game was essentially over, Texas kept its foot on the gas defensively.
Avery Benson, one of Beard’s favorites who transferred from Texas Tech, drew back-to-back charges with less than six minutes remaining. Not to be outdone, backup guard Devin Askew drew a charge on UTRGV’s next possession. Askew also had four assists.
Three straight possessions, three charges drawn by the Texas defense. And that’s when the Horns were leading by 24 at the time.
“The defensive intensity that Texas came out with in the second half, that created all the problems,” Figger said.
Texas ended up scoring 27 points off 22 UTRGV turnovers. “We can’t have four people playing defense,” Bishop said. “When all five guys are doing it, it benefits the team.”
Beard’s motivational tactics must work. UT students came onto the floor for another group photo afterward. Beard and the Horns dressed and hustled over to Gregory Gym to support the UT volleyball team in an NCAA second-round tournament game.
“He stuck around for the team picture there at the end. So that was cool,” Beard said. “We appreciate Hawaiian Shirt Guy.”