No. 8 Texas will continue to ride its stifling defense as it looks for the right rotation among its bevy of talented transfers and returnees when it hosts San Jose State on Saturday as part of the inaugural Abe Lemons Classic in Austin.
The Longhorns (2-1) charge into the game against the Spartans (1-2) after a 61-49 win over visiting Northern Colorado on Wednesday, their first time back on the court after a loss at No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 13.
Tre Mitchell scored 16 points to lead a balanced scoring attack. Timmy Allen added 10 points and game-high eight rebounds for the Longhorns, who won despite shooting just 41.7 percent (25-for-60) from the floor and 22.2 percent (4-for-18) from beyond the arc.
“We don’t have one guy that’s going to look at the scoreboard and go home happy,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “That’s not how our players are wired. It’s early in our journey. We’re three games into this thing — 34 practices into this thing. But so far, so good.”
Texas used a stingy defense and a domination on the glass to build a 37-15 lead at the break then cruised to the finish line, posting a 19-6 advantage in points off turnovers and registering a season-high 11 steals in Wednesday’s win. The Longhorns also earned a 36-26 rebound margin, including a 15-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
Beard was none too pleased at how his team finished off the game, and put his players through the paces in practice on Thursday to emphasize that.
“We got beat (in the second half),” Beard said. “To compete against the teams we want to compete against, 32 minutes isn’t going to get it done.”
San Jose State heads to Austin after a 67-66 loss at California Baptist on Thursday. Ibrahima Diallo had a career-best 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Trey Smith added 14 and Alvaro Cardenas Torre hit for 12 points.
San Jose State led by nine with 5:06 to play but was outscored 14-4 down the stretch. The Spartans played without leading scorer Omari Moore, who was held out for undisclosed reasons after scoring a career-high 21 points in San Jose State’s loss at Stanford on Monday
San Jose State coach Tim Miles said he’s using the Spartans’ early games to fine tune some things and to get his players to believe in what they are doing collectively.
“It’s just the littlest of things that we’re trying to get into,” Miles explained. “We can get some other stuff in, whether it be our defensive scheme or our offensive scheme. Either way, we will try to get these guys to believe in themselves. I think that’s a huge thing for us.
“There’s a lot of self-discovery going on right now. And we just got to hang with these guys, keep believing and good things will happen.”
The Spartans, who went 5-16 last season, were picked to finish 10th in the 11-team Mountain West Conference in the preseason poll.
–Field Level Media