Shaka Smart has his team playing at a different level right now.
Kerwin Roach lead Texas with 15 points, Eric Davis and Prince Ibeh each had 13 points, and Isaiah Taylor had 11 points to lead Texas to a 72-58 victory over Vanderbilt in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.
The Longhorns (14-7, 6-3 in Big 12) only had one turnover in the first half and held Vandy (12-9, 4-4 in SEC) to a season-low 16 points in the opening 20 minutes to lead by 15 at halftime.
Roach had 8 points at the halfway point to lead the Longhorns, who also got 6 points from Taylor and 5 from Davis.
The Commodores, who started the game 1-for-8 from the floor, had to adjust playing the second half without their top scorer on the season in Wade Baldwin, who averaged 15 points per game coming in. He was injured late in the first half and didn’t return.
That meant that Vandy would rely on Damian Jones, a future NBA first-round pick, to get them back in the game. He did, scoring 15 of his 26 points in the second half.
Vandy also got great contributions from Matthew Fisher-Davis, whose accuracy from deep kept the Commodores within striking distance. But Texas never let the game get to within two possessions in the second half.
GAME WAS OVER WHEN
Prince Ibeh grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up with a dunk over a helpless Vandy defender to put Texas up 66-55 with 2:23 left.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kerwin Roach – Sure he led Texas in points with 15 but he also grabbed as many rebounds as Ibeh did  and had a game-high four steals.
STAT OF THE GAME
8 – The number of offensive rebounds Ibeh had by himself. Vandy, a team with two starters at, or above 7-feet, had 8 offensive rebounds as a team. Texas had 15 offensive rebounds all together.
WHAT STOOD OUT
- Prince Ibeh just continues to grow more comfortable in his new role as the primary 5 in this Cam Ridley-less system. Ibeh will never be a dynamic offensive threat but he understands that and has adjusted his game a bit. He finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds [8 offensive], and also had two blocks and one steal. Most surprisingly, though, is what he’s done at the FT line. He was 3-for-21 coming into this week. This week he is 10-for-12.
- How about the job that Kendal Yancy and Tevin Mack did as the 4 for a large chunk of this one? When they rotated over to that position with Connor Lammert either on the bench of at the 5, one of those two [Yancy and Mack] were tasked with guarding Vandy’s 7-1 center Luke Kornet. What a job they did as Kornet finished with just one FG on 7 attempts.
- Isaiah Taylor’s ability to create off the dribble is a sight to see. Sometimes his passes are too nifty for his teammates to handle. He’s playing a much smarter game these days, understanding that he doesn’t have to handle to bulk of the scoring. He’s got help now and its’ making him a much better player.
- Texas outscored Vandy 40-18 in the paint.
- The Longhorns outscored the Commodores 20-4 in points-off-turnovers, and had a 17-3 advantage in fast break points.
BIG RECRUIT AT THE GAME
Highly coveted 2017 small forward Charles O'Bannon was in the house. He was one of the top 3 targets I mentioned UT was after in last week's HD Only.
O’Bannon is the No. 10 SF in the country, the No. 1 SF on the west coast and the No. 61 player overall.
If the name sounds familiar, it should: O'Bannon is the son of collegiate basketball great Charles O'Bannon and the nephew of Ed O'Bannon, who won a national title at UCLA in 1995.
UP NEXT: Texas will travel to Waco to take on Baylor as part of ESPN’s “Big Monday” at 8 p.m.
Longhorns guard Javan Felix