High scorin' Horns open with exhibition win

It took the Texas offense a few possessions to get warmed up Wednesday night -- the Horns kept the sparse Erwin Center crowd of 4,125 on its feet until the fifth possession before making a bucket -- but once it got revved up, the UT O lit the board unlike any Longhorn team of recent (read: <B>Rick Barnes</B>) vintage.

Yeah, the Horns faced an Alaska-Anchorage team that gave up 122 points Monday to Georgia, but the effect of finally having a true (and extremely talented) point guard is already evident. Texas equaled the total the Bulldogs hung on the Seawolves earlier this week, winning its first exhibition game 122-72.

Before running Alaska-Anchorage out of the building, the Horns' highest offensive output in the Barnes era was a 113-point exhibition win over a team from Denmark in '99. UT's highest regular season total? Ninety-nine points vs. Kansas State, also in '99.

It's no coincidence that this effort came in T.J. Ford's first game in a Texas uniform. Ford created opportunities for just about everyone on the floor wearing the Orange and White. His steals set up several of UT's early points, including his own length of the court drive and lay-in to give the Horns an early 10-6 lead and his only bucket of the night. Ford struggled from the floor, but his role on this team isn't as a scorer. It's as a defender and a penetrator and a distributor, all things he did despite a two-point, one-for-12 shooting performance from the field.

"I'm surprised he took 12 shots," Barnes said. "He goes through practice some days and does not take a shot. He's always looking to pass."

Even with the 12 shots, that's quite evident by another 12 on the stat sheet: Ford's total in the assist column. The freshman point guard also snagged six steals and led the team in both categories in his team-high 27 minutes on the court.

"If he does that all year we'll be fine," the Texas head coach said. "We'll shoot an extremely high percentage."

For UT, its 48-percent mark from the field, including a lot of easy misses in what Barnes called a somewhat "sloppy" offensive performance, far surpassed last year's season mark of just over 41-percent.

The Horns opened in a two point guard line-up, with both Ford and Fredie Williams on the court for the opening tip. Williams ended up with eight points, three assists and three steals. "A lot of the open looks were a credit to T.J. and Fredie on the court driving and kicking," Brian Boddicker said. Boddicker was one of the main beneficiaries of the open looks the guards created. The 6-8 forward nailed eight of his 11 field goal attempts, including three of five treys, to score a game-high 21 points.

Brandon Mouton and Royal Ivey each added 18 points. Chris Owens, in just 12 minutes of game time, totaled 13 points and six boards. James Thomas cleaned up several misses, scoring eight of his 12 points on put-backs. Redshirt freshman center Jason Klotz led Texas with nine rebounds.

The Horns used 12 players in the game -- the starting line-up of Ford, Williams, Mouton, Owens and Boddicker, plus Thomas, Sydmill Harris, Deginald Erskin, Klotz, Terrell Ross, Ivey and Drew Gressett -- and all but Gressett will probably be part of the rotation during the regular season. Chris Ogden, who didn't suit out vs. the Seawolves because of a sprained ankle, will also see substantial minutes during the season.

"We're deep," Barnes said Wednesday. "And there's not a huge drop-off. I've got to coach differently than I've coached at Texas. We've got enough guys to get them out in open floor and I've told the guys I want to have an attack mode to use our depth. We've got to make it a factor."

The Horns will get to test that depth against Arizona in the regular season opener at the Erwin Center on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Wildcats are one of the nation's top teams. Texas takes on EA Sports next Tuesday in its final tune-up before Arizona invades the Erwin Center.

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