Short-Handed Horns Cruise In Hoops Exhibition

With a 3-pointer by sophomore Justin Mason in the first 20 seconds of the game, the Longhorns opened their first exhibition game of the year and didn't look back in an 87-56 win over Xavier (La.).

The Horns hit 47.7% from the field on the night, paced by Damion James, who hit 7 of his 11 attempts, and D.J. Augustin, who knocked down 8 of 17 including 3 of 8 from long distance.

Sophomore point guard Augustin finished with a team-high 22 points and seven assists and sophomore forward James finished with 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Mason scored 10 and pulled down seven boards. True freshmen Alexis Wangmene added six points and five rebounds in 15 minutes while classmate Clint Chapman didn't scratch the scoring column but cleaned the glass for seven rebounds in his 14 minutes on the floor. Junior center Connor Atchley had five points and four rebounds in 19 minutes.

"It was a fun game. We came out excited and played hard," James said, although he admitted that he felt he was a little too anxious on the court. "I had six turnovers and I'm not too excited about that." As a team, the Horns turned the ball over 16 times.

Texas true freshman Gary Johnson went 4-9 from the field, totaling 13 points and six boards, in just 19 minutes of action coming off the bench, but the impressive feat is that he was on the court at all. Johnson was expected to step into a starting role this year until he was diagnosed with a heart problem this summer. Although cleared for practice and the exhibition game, it is still uncertain whether he will be able to participate in regular-season games.

"I thought he played pretty good," Barnes said. "He was definitely excited about playing... He did what he always did. I thought he really did a pretty good job on the perimeter."

The Horns played without returning starter A.J. Abrams, sidelined with a toe injury, and without back-up big men Dexter Pittman (foot) and Matt Hill (heel).

Texas started strong with Mason's bomb but Xavier tied it up 12-12 about 5 minutes in. A jumper and two 3-pointers by Augustin knotted the game at 20-20 at the 12-minute mark.

The Horns, though, went on a 9-point run thanks to 4 points from James, 3 more from Mason and a lay-up by senior J.D. Lewis, who got the start with Abrams sidelined. Texas led 49-37 at the half.

The second half started with a bang for the Horns when James made an explosive dunk quickly following a lay-up by Augustin, but both teams struggled, relatively speaking, to find the bottom of the net. Texas finished with ten 3-pointers on the night, but just three after the break. Regardless, the Horns doubled up the Gold Rush in the second half, 38-19. Texas also dominated the boards in the final 20, grabbing 18 rebounds to Xavier's eight. The Horns outrebounded the visitors for the game 48-25.

"They went big on us and they were cleaning everything off the glass" Xavier Head Coach Dannton Jones said post-game.

Barnes said Xavier was "a good opponent for us. There were some good things. We have got to get better, we know that. But the effort was there for the most part. We had a couple of really hard days this week in practice but we are getting there."

Texas opens the 2007-08 regular season vs. UTSA at the Erwin Center on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

Horns Digest Top Stories