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With family behind him, Texas’ Courtney Ramey rebounds in blowout over Incarnate Word

Texas' Courtney Ramey reacts after dunking a ball during the 78-33 win over Incarnate Word on Tuesday. "He puts the work in every single day, and he's going to come to bring it every night regardless of the circumstances. And he holds himself to a high standard,” teammate Tre Mitchell said of Ramey, who has reportedly clashed with coaches. “And he knows when he doesn't meet that standard, he's right back in the gym and he's right back to work.”

No, Courtney Ramey wasn’t injured against Alabama State last week, as some suspected. He played only four minutes but stood on the sideline cheering his teammates the whole way.

No, one of the vital members of this year’s squad isn’t looking to leave Texas, either. 

If that was the case, why did 16 family members fly down from the St. Louis area — some wearing white shirts with Ramey’s name and jersey number on the back — in a supportive show of force for Tuesday’s 78-33 win over Incarnate Word?

OK, so Ramey butted heads with Texas coaches, according to two sources, and essentially spent one game in coach Chris Beard’s doghouse. It wasn’t the first time Ramey's competitive juices overflowed. May not be the last, either.

But don’t ever question how badly Ramey wants to win. Or, put another way, how badly the 6-foot-3 senior wants to win for the Longhorns. “That's my guy, Courtney,” Tre Mitchell said.

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Ramey was back in the lineup Tuesday, mixing it up, scoring, fighting on the floor for a loose ball and smothering his man as No. 17 Texas snuffed out Incarnate Word at the Erwin Center. If that’s the player who shows up in conference play, Beard said, “then, I think we’re about to go on a pretty exciting ride.”

“Good thing about Ramey, he’s a tough guy,” Beard said. “Ramey doesn't hold grudges. Ramey just competes, man. There's not a lot of loafing in Ramey. He's going to compete. He's a competitor. He was a competitor before I got here, and I'm just trying to get the most out of him. Good player.”

The final nonconference game of 2021 was every bit the blowout the score indicates. Dylan Disu had his first double-double at UT with 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to swatting away five shots. The Horns had a season-high eight blocks while allowing what tied for the fourth-lowest point total in school history.

Incarnate Word guard Drew Lutz loses control of the ball while being defended by Texas forward Dylan Disu during the first half Tuesday. Disu led the team with his first double-double as a Longhorn with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked five shots.

Texas is 10-2 overall going into Saturday’s Big 12 opener against West Virginia, which would be ranked 28th if the Associated Press poll stretched beyond the Top 25. Is that any good? Well, a lot of those 10 wins came against cupcakes, like 2-11 Incarnate Word. 

“I think we’ve all come to the point where we know it's time for us to turn the corner and start doing this,” Mitchell said.

Beard, a marketing marvel, said anyone can get into Saturday’s game for $10, earning a seat and a mimosa. Yes, a mimosa. How else should one prepare for an 11 a.m. tipoff on New Year’s Day?

“Tre, do you know what a mimosa is?” Beard asked his 6-foot-9 forward.

“Being that I am 21, I do know what a mimosa is,” Mitchell said. “Who doesn’t like mimosas? Y’all might as well come get one.”

So much fan energy is expended on those who may come and those who leave. Freshman Jaylon Tyson, who had originally signed with Texas Tech for Beard, chose to leave Texas after playing just eight games. He averaged 1.8 points and seven minutes per game. 

“I think the decision was made out of playing time is what he told me,” Beard said. He wished Tyson the best, “but this is 2021 college basketball.”

Where’s the love for the players who choose to stick it out? Ramey could have gone elsewhere, like many Horns did when the school parted ways with coach Shaka Smart. But Ramey stayed, followed new strength coach John Reilly’s program and essentially recommitted to UT.

But that means also buying into what Beard is selling, too, and taking hard coaching. 

“As a human being, I can only push myself so much,” Beard said. “It’s why coaches exist. I could take you out there right now, tell you to run three sprints, run as fast as you can. You could do it. But if I come out there with you, I can make you go a little bit faster. If you and I have a relationship and you want me to coach you. It's what coaching is. That's my job, to get the most out of these guys.”

Ramey subbed in with 16:33 left in the first half and found himself in the middle of two key plays. He hit Andrew Jones for a smooth 3-pointer. Then, Incarnate Word turned it over, and Jones had to chase the ball down before it sailed over the baseline. He flipped it back to Ramey, who scored on an acrobatic layup. 

Texas guard Courtney Ramey drives to the basket against Incarnate Word forward Logan Bracamonte. Texas improved to 10-2 heading into its Big 12 opener this weekend against West Virginia.

Granted, Texas led just 12-3 at the time, but for the longest time, it felt like that’s all the home team would need. The Cardinals did not score a two-point field goal until there was 38 seconds left before the break. They managed only 14 first-half points, five shy of tying a UT school record for points allowed in a half.

RJ Glasper went one-on-one against Ramey with less than 12 minutes left in the game. Ramey was all over him. Glasper put up a tough shot, one that required no divine intervention but was difficult nonetheless. It missed and the Horns went the other way. 

This is all Beard has asked. Just get all over your man, make him uncomfortable and force him to take tough shots. As Ramey was set to check back in with 6 minutes left, Beard was just over his right shoulder, giving him instructions and patting him in go-get-’em fashion. 

“When you look at his numbers through the season, he's performing,” Mitchell said. “He’s shooting it over 40% from three, which is extremely impressive. He works hard. He puts the work in every single day, and he's going to come to bring it every night regardless of the circumstances.

“And he holds himself to a high standard,” Mitchell added. “And he knows when he doesn't meet that standard, he's right back in the gym and he's right back to work.”

That’s the job. That’s how you become a pro. 

Ramey was not made available to reporters afterward, but he spoke enough with his play. His family’s show of support in the stands spoke volumes, too.

“I think all of us, including myself, are striving for consistency,” Beard said. “I believe Courtney Ramey can be a really good pro. If our team can get the best out of him every possession, then I think we'll have a chance to be one of the best teams in the country.”

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