Texas Men’s Athletic Director Steve Patterson is braced for the inevitable backlash that’s coming Monday morning.
The music was too loud. DJ Irie kept the crowd juiced with songs like “Turn Down for What.” The Texas band got turned down, that’s what. The pre-game pyrotechnics show was over the top, someone will say. And $8 for one beer at the concession stands?
Yes, a new era has begun at the Erwin Center. The team on the floor put on a heck of a show, too.
Tenth-ranked Texas opened the 2014-15 season with a thoroughly convincing 85-50 win over North Dakota State, a team that’s in full rebuilding mode after winning the Summit League title last season.
The student section was almost full a half-hour before tipoff. Many came to get a free, white bucket hat in honor of Myles Turner. It sounds ridiculous, to a degree. A promotional giveaway for a player who, until Friday night, had never played a single minute in a Texas uniform?
The 6-foot-11 freshman wasted no time proving himself. Turner came into the game with 16:04 remaining in the first half, hit an easy 7-footer and then a 17-footer just beyond the left elbow.
Then, the crowd really got excited with Turner sank a nifty step-back fadeaway just off the block, something you’d expect from a seasoned veteran. The monster two-handed dunk Turner threw down just before halftime was child’s play, by comparison.
One of the nation’s top recruits last year had a team-high 11 points at the break and finished with 15 points and six rebounds in his UT debut. For those curious, Kevin Durant had 20 and six rebounds in his Texas debut in November 2006.
Meanwhile, coach Rick Barnes ran though his bench, getting 11 players on the floor in the first half. Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland, Jonathan Holmes, Connor Lammert and Cam Ridley were the starting five. Barnes has stressed he doesn’t focus on any particular starting five since so many will rotate in.
The usual suspects turned in their usual performances. Taylor hit mid-range jumpers. Holland drove the baseline and drew a foul at the rim. Ridley got a dunk in transition. Felix was 1-for-4 from 3-point range, and Lammert went around collecting seven rebounds.
That’s what they did last season en route to a 24-11 finish. For players with Big 12 and national title hopes, they’ll need to do more. Texas gets another crack at it Sunday against Alcorn State in the second round of the 2K Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project.
Briefly: Texas officials said approximately 2,300 students were in attendance Friday. While the school doesn’t keep records on student attendance, it was easily one of the biggest student turnouts for any November game in recent years. … The pre-game intro video featured snippets of Kevin Durant’s NBA MVP speech from last May.
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