Lewis, Defense Boost Longhorns To Victory

Texas smothered Texas State on defense, then used a second-half three-point barrage to put away the Bobcats, 86-52.

"The first half was the first time we've played Texas defense," said Alexis Wangmene afterward.

And boy, did the Longhorns defend. The Bobcats, visibly frustrated, struggled even to knock down the open shots that they got, shooting a pedestrian 13.6 percent from the floor in the first half in hitting just 3-of-22 from the floor. Only one of those three buckets was a two-point basket, with the Bobcats hitting just 1-of-12 for the half inside the arc.

That defense allowed the Longhorns to build a 38-19 halftime advantage, one that the Longhorns boosted thanks to 14 second-half points from Julien Lewis.

"When I saw myself out there running around getting myself going, I thought: 'Oh yeah, it's my time. It's my time to hit these big shots,'" Lewis said. "In college basketball, you never get that many wide open shots like that because there are always good teams who play aggressive defense.

"But today, it just happened to be that everywhere I went, I was open," Lewis said. "I was just so excited that I was knocking down the shots. I just felt good hitting the three today."

But Lewis was just part of the offensive outburst that saw Texas come out and hit six of its first seven three pointers in the second half. Lewis hit the first, then J'Covan Brown hit one. After a Brown miss, Myck Kabongo drilled the Longhorns' third three-pointer. Then Lewis drained another one, Sheldon McClellan joined the three-party and Lewis finished off the run with another three that boosted the score to 63-26 at the 14:15 mark. The 24-7 run — fueled entirely on Longhorn three-pointers — finished off any chance that the Bobcats had of coming back.

"They came out to (the zone) to try to change things up," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We got pretty good looks at it."

Five Longhorns finished the game in double figures. Lewis had a career-high 19, while Kabongo slapped up a 13-point, seven-assist, two steal night. McClellan continued his strong run with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench. Alexis Wangmene (11 points and six boards) and Brown (11 points on 5-of-8 shooting) also hit the double-digit mark.

Texas State was able to up its shooting percentage to 25.9 percent on the game, thanks to a second half where the Bobcats hit 5-of-12 three pointers when the game was out-of-reach. For the game, the Bobcats made just 8-of-36 two-point shots, or 22 percent. Guard Eddie Rios was the only Texas State player in double figures, but it took him 11 shots to get his 11 points.

"I thought the start of the game, of all the games we've played this year, the first half looked the most like a Texas team defensively than at any point this year," Barnes said.

Texas State coach Doug Davalos lauded the Longhorn defense afterward, but also lamented the way his team moved the ball.

"When you play Texas, you expect to see a good defensive team, but you can't help them out my shooting contested shoots," Davalos said. "You have to be confident in finding an open teammate. Texas is a very good `help' team. What we were trying to do was exploit the helper, to make that extra pass. We did not do that enough tonight. The thing that is really disappointing to me is (our) six assists.

"You are not going to beat a team like Texas with guys trying to play one-on-five," Davalos said. "They are too good of a team."

The loss knocked Texas State to 6-3 on the season. The Longhorns (7-2) won their fifth straight contest. They will play Nichols State in Austin on Tuesday. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

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