Scouting the Longhorns

Texas is one of the best defensive teams in the Big 12 Conference and the Longhorns hope to shut down the Colorado tandem of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins today in Boulder.

GETTING INSIDE

Texas coach Rick Barnes figured what he called the "sting of defeat" might be a useful motivational tool for his Longhorns.

Yeah, it probably was.

Texas, which could have risen to No. 1 in the nation this week if not for a weekend loss at Nebraska, bounced back just fine, beating visiting Iowa State, 76-53, on Tuesday. Next up is a game at Colorado on Saturday.

The Longhorns (24-4, 12-1) will unleash their top-notch defense to stop Colorado guards Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, who entered the week averaging a combined 35.6 points per game.

Colorado has other capable scorers, but they don't figure to hurt Texas too much if the Longhorns can blanket Burks and Higgins.

Texas held Iowa State to 33.3 percent shooting and Barnes was pleased with his team turning in more of a 40-minute effort, which wasn't the case in the loss at Nebraska.

Freshman center Tristan Thompson, who had three rebounds in 33 minutes against the Cornhuskers, seemed to learn a lesson. He had 17 points and 14 rebounds vs. the Cyclones.

"I knew coming in that we needed to be active on the glass, and Gary (Johnson) and I talked it before the game about being active on the glass," Thompson said.

"That is the reason why we had the loss at Nebraska so we knew coming in we had to be active on the glass."

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Coach Rick Barnes, before the game against Iowa State, announced the indefinite suspension of backup forward/center Alexis Wangmene because of a violation of team rules. Wangmene had appeared in every game this season as a reserve, averaging 2.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game. Those have been valuable backup minutes for Texas, which used only Matt Hill as frontcourt help off the bench against the Cyclones.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Freshman C Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 14 rebounds as Texas held Iowa State to a season-low point total in a 76-53 victory on Tuesday night. That marked the fifth double-double of Thompson's career. "For our team to have success on the offensive end we have to get the ball to Tristan," sophomore wing Jordan Hamilton said. "I think he did a great job tonight taking good shots, knocking down free throws and rebounding very well."

--Sophomore F Jordan Hamilton, continuing to make a case for conference and national honors, had 20 points and eight rebounds vs. Iowa State. "I think he is big time," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Coming from where I've been the past few years in the NBA, he is a prototype wing player. He's got the size, the quickness, the speed, the shooting stroke and he has the ability to be a very special player."

--Senior F Gary Johnson tied his career high with 12 rebounds against Iowa State. He added 14 points, recording his fourth double-double of the season and ninth of his career.

--The 11-game conference win streak Texas had snapped at Nebraska on Feb. 19 was the best for the Longhorns since they won 13 in a row in the Southwest Conference during the 1962-63 season. This year's streak was snapped by the Huskers, who pulled off a 70-67 upset. Texas entered the game as one of two teams undefeated in conference play. The other was Princeton in the Ivy League.

--The .364 shooting percentage Texas managed against Nebraska was easily the worst touch the Longhorns have exhibited in Big 12 play. Texas came in shooting 49.2 percent against conference rivals and ranked second in the Big 12 behind Kansas.

BY THE NUMBERS: 288:12 -- Time, to the second, that Texas had led opponents before Nebraska gained its first lead with 15:58 remaining.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They just pounded us inside, especially in the second half. ... They wanted it more than us. They got 50-50 balls, that's why they kicked our butts inside." -- Texas F Tristan Thompson.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

GAME PREVIEW:

--at Colorado, Feb. 26

KEY MATCHUPS: As much as visiting coaches like to dispute or ignore it, altitude can be a factor, so Texas coach Rick Barnes must be careful not to wear down his regulars. This usually isn't a problem in his rotation. Finding G Alec Burks and G Cory Higgins and keeping them from having big nights is difficult. Both are adept at driving the ball and creating offense. G Levi Knutson is a long-range threat.

FUTURES MARKET: Throughout Big 12 play, Texas consistently wore out teams underneath, but in a 70-67 loss at Nebraska on Feb. 19, the Longhorns withered. They were outscored 38-14 in the paint and outrebounded 39-34 as the Huskers used a pair of 6-11 posts on the low block. Maybe a blueprint was provided for future opponents, though many teams will be hard-pressed to find a pair of players as hard to budge as the Huskers' Jorge Brian Diaz and Andre Almeida, who combine to weigh almost 600 pounds.

PLAYER NOTES

--Sophomore G Jordan Hamilton was targeted to take the last shot at Nebraska in the Feb. 19 loss, but did not get the ball and finished 3-for-16 from the field. He still shared game-high scorer honors with 18 points, largely off 9-for-11 shooting from the foul line.

--Sophomore G J'Covan Brown did launch the final shot, which missed, against the Huskers and also finished with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

--Freshman F Tristan Thompson managed just three rebounds at Nebraska, four short of his season average of 7.4, as the Longhorns were outrebounded 39-34.


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