Hoops: Aldridge Helps Halt Slide

Texas rode the back of LaMarcus Aldridge to snap a two-game losing streak with an 85-49 stomping of Texas State at the Erwin Center Thursday night.

The center racked up his eighth double-double this year, scoring a team-high 21 points and 14 rebounds. Forward P.J. Tucker finished with 17 points and nine boards and G Daniel Gibson added 15 points while helping the No. 15 Horns (9-2) get back on track.

Texas’ win came despite a roster depleted, after the transfer of F Dion Dowell and injuries to F Brad Buckman and F Mike Williams left the Horns with just seven players. Dowell played in just three games so far this season and elected to transfer earlier this week to compete for more playing time.

With the lack of able bodies to play down low, guard A.J. Abrams got his first career start for a Texas squad featuring a three-guard lineup, with Gibson shuffled over to shooting guard, and reserve C Connor Atchley seeing the court for a career-high 23 minutes.

While turnovers and defense proved to be problems for the Horns the past two games, Texas improved in those areas Thursday. The Horns turned the ball over just seven times after giving up the ball 38 times during the losing streak and let Texas State (1-8) shoot just 27.8 percent on the night.

"We were really swarming and helping each other," said coach Rick Barnes. "I liked most of all we had seven turnovers. I thought we looked like a team."

Gibson left last weekend’s game early after suffering a mild concussion in the loss to Tennessee but came into this contest with confidence.

"I came in feeling good," said Gibson. "I wasn't going to worry about getting hit."

His confidence paid off, and the Horns started the game hot with Gibson nailing a pair of three pointers and G Kenton Paulino draining one as well to give Texas a 9-0 jump. A Tucker dunk and Aldridge jumper capped off the 13-point Texas run to start the contest.

After the fast start, Gibson cooled off and missed his next seven shots, including six from behind the arc before finishing the game shooting just 3-of-13 from long range. Three point shooting continued to be troublesome for Texas until the Horns responded by shooting 50.0 percent (6-of-12) from behind the arc in the second half after shooting a woeful 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from long distance in the first half.

Atchley got on the board with a jump shot to bring the score to 17-5 before the Bobcats scored six straight to close to gap to six points after ten minutes of play. Atchley finished the game with six points.

Texas increased the lead back to 12 points after Tucker scored on a lay up and Paulino and Abrams tossed in a trey a piece. Following a Bobcat lay up, Texas went on a 12-0 run to give the Horns a 37-15 edge with an Abrams’ jumper capping off the streak.

Even though three minutes remained until the half, the Horns’ focus went into the locker room prematurely, and the Bobcats scored seven straight with Texas missing five consecutive three pointers to close out the half.

Entering the second half with a 37-22 advantage, Texas immediately began extending its lead when Aldridge scored on a jumper, and Gibson connected from long distance to give the Horns a 20-point lead.

Texas soon fired off 10-straight points after before letting Texas State chip away at the lead and bring the game to within 21 points. From then on, the Horns never let the Bobcats get that close, and Texas racked up a 14-point streak. During the run, Abrams drained a pair of three pointers and Gibson and Tucker added jumpers.

G Craig Winder put his first points on the board at the end of the game by knocking down two shots from behind the arc to close things out.

The Horns return to action next Friday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. vs. Prairie View A&M at the Erwin Center.


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