Hoops: Horns Wrap Up Exhibition Sked With 'W'

Despite relatively quiet performances from PG Daniel Gibson and F P.J. Tucker, No. 2 Texas breezed by coach Rick Barnes' alma mater Lenoir-Rhyne College in a 97-36 exhibition win Wednesday night at the Erwin Center.

Gibson finished the contest with eight points, one week after putting four points on the board in the pre-season opener. Tucker, last season’s scoring leader before his suspension, had nine points in the victory, but coach Rick Barnes sees no reason to be concerned.

"P.J. can score," said Barnes. "I’m not worried about that. He’s too good a basketball player, so all that will come."

Forward Brad Buckman and center LaMarcus Aldridge made up for the scoring void, with Buckman leading the squad with 18 points and Aldridge adding 16 points of his own. The sophomore center grabbed a team-high 11 boards. For Aldridge, the game proved once again that the center is completely over last season’s hip injury.

"I just feel so much stronger and feel like I can make good, sound moves this year," said Aldridge, who led his team with 21 points a week ago.

Long-range shooting is one area of concern for the Horns, who made just 3-of-12 three-pointers in the first half. Texas went on to shoot 32.0% from behind the arc.

The Longhorns came out of the gate sloppy, with Gibson missing his first two shots to start the game. The sophomore guard responded to his slow start, though, by nailing a pair of three-pointers to give the Horns a 10-2 jump on the Bears.

Several Texas players began lighting up the scoreboard, including Aldridge with his six points in the paint in just five minutes of play.

When the game stood at 22-10 in Texas’ favor, Buckman connect on three free throws before snatching a pass from F Dion Dowell and slamming it home. Texas finished the first half on an 11-0 run, with six of the points coming from G Kenton Paulino, and the Horns went into the break with a 46-18 edge.

Texas started quickly in the second half, after an Aldridge dunk capped off a 7-0 Texas run in the first two minutes of play. Aldridge struck again down low a few minutes later, throwing down another dunk, this time ending a 10-0 Longhorn run.

With the game well in hand just five minutes into the second half, G J.D. Lewis got in on the action. Lewis, who had 14 points in his Longhorn debut last week, finished the game with 11 points. After missing a couple of three-point shots earlier in the half, Lewis connected on two in the final few minutes of the game.

Along with Lewis, much of the Texas bench gets credit for making up for the quiet outings of Gibson and Tucker, with C Connor Atchley and F Mike Williams scoring seven each, and G A.J. Abrams adding five points to the mix.

"Our bench definitely has a chance to do something big for us," said Tucker. "Our guys have to be able to step in and make something happen whether they are playing just one minute or ten."

The Texas defense looked sharp all game and limited the Bears to just 30.2% shooting, but even with the solid results on both sides of the court, Barnes is not completely satisfied.

"After every game, there will be something we need to improve and build on," said Barnes. "But as long as our guys continue with the attitude they have now, we’ll be successful."

Texas opens the regular season next Tuesday at the Erwin Center vs. Southern in the first round of the Guardians Classic.

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