Hoops: Horns Singe Nets In 45-Point Win

It may have been unusually cold in Austin, but Texas was hot on both sides of the court as the men’s basketball team burned Centenary in a 97-52 win Wednesday night.

The Longhorns (No.12 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 15 in the Associated Press poll) scored a season high in points on a blazing 62.7 percent shooting from the field while also giving a strong showing defensively. The Longhorn defense kept Centenary frozen in the first half, limiting the Gents to just 12 points at the break, tying a Texas record for fewest points allowed in the first half. In fact, the only time a Texas defense was stingier in a half occurred in 1984 when the Horns allowed only 10 points in the second half of a win over Baylor.

Texas created 25 turnovers, a season high, and held the Gents to just 35 percent shooting from the field. G Kenny Taylor and C LaMarcus Aldridge led the squad defensively, as Taylor snagged four steals and Aldridge added four blocked shots.

"We improved on our defensive intensity," said Taylor. "We came in and wanted to shut them down."

While both players set season high marks for their play on defense, both also reached career high numbers with the ball.

Taylor finished the game with a team-high 23 points, but surprisingly, most of his scores came inside the arc. Taylor threw up far more two-point attempts than usual, shooting just 3-for-5 from three-point range while connected on 7-of-8 from inside the arc. As a whole, the Longhorns shied away from the three-point shots, attempting a season-low 12 treys, but nailed half of them. What the Horns lacked from long range, they made up down low, evident by the fact that three Texas big men reached career numbers in points.

Aldridge scored a career-high 19 points and also scored points with the fans, as six of his points came off of flashy alley-oop throw-downs.

The fans at the Erwin Center finally got a glimpse of what freshman Mike Williams is capable of doing with the ball. The forward outscored his entire season total in the game by shooting 6-of-9 for 13 points. Williams also pulled down 10 rebounds to earn his first career double-double.

Williams’ performance not only proved his worth to fans, but also showed head coach Rick Barnes that he is deserving of more playing time.

"He definitely should have played more in the away game last week," said Barnes after the victory.

Coming off a disappointing 89-88 last-second loss to Wake Forest, the Horns looked fired up from tip-off. Texas jumped out to an early lead and distributed the ball well to start the half with a 10-5 edge, each Texas bucket coming off the hands of a different shooter.

After a three from Taylor, Aldridge pushed UT's advantage to 15-7 on an alley-oop shot off a G Daniel Gibson pass. Gibson, one of five Longhorn players averaging double-digits in scoring, finished the game with just seven points but made up for his lack of scoring with a career-high seven assists.

Texas scored 11 unanswered points, five off the hands of Williams, before Centenary answered back with a free throw, giving the Horns a 26-8 lead. Taylor added another seven points before the half concluded, and Texas strolled into the locker room with a comfortable 42-12 half-time cushion.

The Longhorns eased up on defense in the second half, but the offense remained flaming. The second half started much like the first with all the scoreboard changes favoring Texas.

Centenary tallied the first two points of the half, but Texas marched back with a 12-6 scoring run capped off with a G Sydmill Harris three-pointer. Forward Brad Buckman finished the game with just five points, all coming in a second half, Texas-dominating stretch that concluded only because time ran out.

Forward P.J. Tucker finished the game third in scoring for Texas with 12 points and six boards, in a game that saw the sophomore play more of a guard role. C Jason Klotz added 10 points but just one rebound in 20 minutes of action.

Texas, averaging a +18.2 scoring margin coming into the contest, left the Erwin Center with a 45-point victory, the season’s largest.

The Longhorns (8-2) next play host to UT-San Antonio on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.


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