Hoops: Horns pull away from Islanders

With its senior star on the bench, UT's true freshman star took over Wednesday night at the Erwin Center.

Chris Owens keyed an early second half run with two quick inside buckets, extending a five point half time lead to 14, but Owens picked up his third and fourth fouls just seconds later and stayed on the bench for the next 11 minutes. The Islanders cut into the Longhorns' 14-point lead over the next four minutes, outscoring UT 13-4, but the Horns (3-3), largely due to the scoring and the passing of T.J. Ford, slowly pulled away for an 89-64 win.

Ford scored six of his 11 points and dished out three of his 10 assists as Texas opened up a 19-point cushion with Owens on the bench. Royal Ivey and Brandon Mouton also got in on the assist act, setting up big men James Thomas for eight points and Jason Klotz for seven during that CO-less stretch.

"Our interior passing was very good once they opened the court up with the press," Rick Barnes said. "The guards looked and attacked and the interior passing was really good at that time. We still missed a lot of shots in transition but (the run) was a real compliment to James and Jason. Jason can score."

Texas hit 22 of its 35 shots in the second half, a blistering 62.9-percent. A&M-Corpus Christi coach Ronnie Arrow called the second half a "complete disaster." Barnes attributed that Islander disaster to the dribble penetration of Ford and Ivey. Ivey totaled five assists in 36 minutes while Ford came within two rebounds of a triple-double, finishing with 10 assists, 11 points and eight boards.

The Horns didn't exactly light the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes, connecting on just 14 of 34 from the field.

With the game tied at 21 mid-way through the first half, though, outside bomber Sydmill Harris hit three straight treys to push Texas to a 30-21 lead. "Sydmill's a pure shooter," Owens said. "He really knows his role on the team and he comes in and does his job every game. He finds his spot and hits the open shots. He's a big lift for us."

After Harris' hot shootin', A&M-Corpus Christi cut the UT lead to five at the half before the Horns opened the second half with an 11-2 run.

Texas made just five of 11 first half free throws and didn't do much better after the break, finishing the night 13-of-24 (54.2-percent). Owens, who totaled a game-high 21 points, could have had more but missed five of eight from the charity stripe. UT's senior forward couldn't find the range on five of his nine first half field goal attempts but he nailed five-of-seven after the break.

"I didn't play that well tonight," Owens said. "My teammates stepped up and did their job. I've got a lot of things to work on."

CO said consistency is the area that he and the entire team need to improve upon. "Play a full 40 minute game," he said.

Despite their sporadic play, the Horns impressed Arrow, whose team's last outing was against then-No. 2-ranked Illinois in Champaign. "Illinois is not near as physical as UT. And Texas is a much more athletic team than Illinois. They're a very young team and a very talented team. If they get (Fredie) Williams back, they're gonna be a really good team."

Barnes said post-game that Williams will be in a knee brace for at least three more weeks but the trainers say he is making progress in his rehab. It's still unknown whether the senior point guard will be able to return from his pre-season knee injury.


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