Hoops: Healthy Buckman, Horns Blast Tech

When Brad Buckman is healthy, he lets the whole world know it. With the forward playing a full game pain-free for the first time in weeks, Buckman scored 16 points as Texas rolled past Texas Tech with an 80-46 win at the Erwin Center on Tuesday night.

While being bit by the injury bug throughout the season, Buckman left with an ankle injury just last game but came into Monday’s contest looking unfazed.

In fact, Buckman felt so healthy, he took 22 shots, including seven from behind the arc and grabbed a team-best nine rebounds.

"I shot the ball way too many times," said Buckman, "but it was fun to be back. My ankle is still a little stiff, but it feels great. With the adrenaline pumping, it doesn’t bother me."

No. 5 Texas (15-2, 3-0) has now won seven straight games since losing two in a row last month, and Buckman is one reason why.

"He is the difference in this team," said coach Rick Barnes. "We know he is going to give us everything he’s got, and he does every night he goes out there."

Team chemistry has been another factor in the team’s recent success.

"This is definitely not the same team," said F P.J. Tucker. "We are playing more of a team game with guys starting to understand their roles."

With Buckman forced to watch his teammates from the sidelines frequently this season, he has gotten a close look at the changes in his squad.

"The difference is night and day," said Buckman. "Its incredible. There is more team unity than ever before."

While Buckman set the tone for his teammates, C LaMarcus Aldridge led the way in scoring, finishing with 19 points and seven boards. Aldridge also reeked havoc in the paint, disrupting Tech’s offense while racking up four steals down low in the process. Tucker and G Daniel Gibson both matched Buckman’s 16 points, with Gibson connecting on 4-of-8 from long range.

Texas seems to have fixed its early season turnover problem, giving the ball away just 10 times Monday, the second fewest this season.

The defense also deserves credit for Texas’ recent turnaround. During the team’s seven game winning streak, the Horns have held all opponents to under 40.0 percent shooting, after doing so again Monday.

Only G Jarrius Jackson had any success against the Horns, as the Red Raider finished with 21 points. Only four players on Tech’s roster even scored a point.

Gibson began the night off for Texas with a three pointer, igniting an 11-2 run. Buckman drained his first trey of the night after Gibson fed him the ball to cap off the quick start.

Holding onto a five-point lead with 13 minutes left in the half, Tucker drove to the lane for an easy score, and Texas went on another 11-2 run to surge ahead by 11. After the Horns gave up five points, Buckman scored with a lay up, and Aldridge finally came to life. The sophomore scored a basket and the foul shot and followed it up with a crowd-pleasing dunk while following up a G Kenton Paulino missed three pointer to close out the first half.

"We knew we could get some buckets down low, so we just kept pounding it," said Aldridge, "and they couldn’t stop us."

Entering the second half with a 16-point edge, Aldridge continued his authority in the paint by scoring the team’s first seven points to extend the lead.

With a 24-point advantage and 11 minutes left to play, the Horns went berserk and strolled on a 19-4 run. Aldridge knocked down a bank shot to start the streak and Gibson shot lights out, capping off the run with three straight three pointers.

Barnes then cleared his bench, but the Texas dominance never relented. G J.D. Lewis, C Connor Atchley and G Craig Winder all got on the board and gave the Horns their biggest lead of the night until the game closed out with a 34-point margin.

Texas finished 29-of-59 (49.2 percent) shooting from the field, and Tech coach Bob Knight saw no weakness in Texas.

"They impress me as much as any team I have seen in this league," said Knight. "We made a lot of mistakes, but most of them were forced as a result of the way they play."

Despite the blowout loss, Knight is not taking the defeat to heart.

"We just got our ass beat by a much better team," said Knight. "It happens once in a while. Does every team win every game?"

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