Longhorns win 81-73 in sloppy fashion

Longhorns win 81-73 in sloppy fashion

The #6 Texas Longhorns came into Saturday as team that could face a letdown after playing a rigorous schedule that included a big win Tuesday against Villanova. Letdown or not, the Longhorns simply didn't come to play Saturday afternoon, but snuck away with an 81-73 win over Texas State.

A.J. Abrams saved the #6 Longhorns on Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center. Coming off of games of 31 and 26 points, Abrams continued his recent hot streak scoring 30 points and recording four steals in Texas' 81-73 win over Texas State (3-5).

Things got off to a perfect start for the Longhorns scoring the first ten points of the game two minutes and five seconds into the game. Just when things looked rosy, the following 37:55 turned were a struggle for the Longhorns (8-1).

After the quick start, the Longhorns appeared tired, sluggish and slow in defensive rotation for the better part of the game as the Bobcats capitalized on Texas' lethargic effort with 13 offensive rebounds and a number of easy scores.

To add to the Longhorns struggles, Damion James and Gary Johnson combined to shoot just eight of 20 from the free throw line.

Aside from Abrams terrific play, the lone bright spots for Texas were Justin Mason and Dexter Pittman.

Mason again struggled scoring the ball finishing with just three points, but dished out a career high nine assists (zero turnovers) and pulled down seven rebounds. Pittman scored a career high 17 points, including seven of seven from the foul line to go with 10 rebounds for a second career double double.

Texas could never pull away from the pesky Bobcats as the Southland Conference team outrebounded Texas 46-42 in the game and were aided by 43 points off the bench, including 18 by sharpshooter Brent Benson.

Texas State entered the game as one of the top scoring and three-point shooting teams in the country, but the Longhorns held the Doug Davalos-coached team 23 points under their season average and to just two of 15 from the three-point line.

With the Longhorns holding on to a four-point lead at 67-63, Abrams went on a binge scoring 13 of Texas' last 16 points.

Cameron Johnson led the Bobcats with 24 points and five rebounds, while Benson chipped in 18 and six rebounds.

The Longhorns had three players score in double figures led by Abrams with 30. Damion James and Pittman added 17 apiece.

A Look at the Numbers

Texas connected on just 35.9% (23-64) from the field, 35.3% (6-17) from the three-point line and 69% (29-42) from the foul line.

The Bobcats knocked down 40.9% (27-66) overall, 13.3% (2-15) from three and 70.8% (17-24) from the free throw line.

Texas State won the battle of the boards 46-42, while the Longhorns won the turnover battle 21-13.

The Good

Justin Mason continues to play very good all-around basketball for Texas. His rebounding and playmaking have become staples of this Texas team. While increased scoring output would be welcomed, his play on both ends has been key in the 8-1 start for the Longhorns. He needs his teammates to step up and score the ball to allow him to continue playing the type of consistent game he has been producing.

A.J. Abrams has been nothing short of terrific in the last three games. He's doing what he does best, scoring and moving without the ball as well as playing very good denial defense on the opponent's scorer at times. Abrams has been taking shots in the flow and not forcing until the shot clock is running out or the other four players on the floor are completely stagnant.

Dexter Pittman still missed three point blanks he must convert during Big 12 play, but he posted a career-high 17 points. His seven of seven showing from the free throw line was unexpected, but badly needed as James and Johnson played the part of masons Saturday.

While Varez Ward still has his freshman moments with unforced turnovers, he played another quality all-around game. Ward finished with four points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Ward made the best post entry pass of the season in the first half to Dexter Pittman for an easy score.

The Bad

Part of the struggles we'll chalk up to a letdown game after a tough schedule and a game Texas was expected to walk out and dominate.

Connor Atchley offensively has to come out of his funk. He played just 14 minutes and was a non-factor again on offense. Atchley doesn't look confident at this point taking a three. He has always needed time to get into his shot and is being rushed more this year as the pick and float chances are less without the threat of D.J. Augustin turning the corner and getting into the lane.

Texas was slow or non-existent with their defensive rotation.

The rebounding has been a fairly big disappointment the last couple of games. The Longhorns were going all out to defend the three-point line, but the lack of block outs the last two games is disturbing. Damion James must start blocking out more consistently as well as the Texas guards.

Overall

Texas gets the win and moves to 8-1. The Longhorns have one more cupcake this week in Texas Southern before traveling to Houston to take on Michigan State on Saturday.

This is one of those games that makes this week's practices much tougher, but will get the attention of the players heading into the Texas Southern game. Expect a much more intense effort this week with rebounding the ball and team defensive rotation the key points of interest.

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