Texas Squeezes Out a Win Over State

The Texas Longhorns (10-0) did a good job of keeping fans in their seats on Saturday, but a record-breaking performance by junior F/C Connor Atchley may have been one of the few things the Horns did well in a hard fought 96-81 win over Texas State (5-4) at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

Photo Gallery by Will Gallagher

Although the Bobcats seemed to relish their role as David to the Longhorns' Goliath, they would eventually beat only themselves by giving Texas an early Christmas present of 42 free throws, 31 of which the Longhorns drained. Texas State started off with a five point lead until sophomore guard Justin Mason hit a jumper from the paint almost three minutes in to throw up Texas' first two points. Only two weeks after toppling No. 1-ranked UCLA in historic Pauley Pavilion, the Longhorns went shot-for-shot with Texas State and could not match them until a dunk by Atchley tied the game up at 15-15 ten minutes in to the first half. The lead would change another 10 times before the Longhorns hit the locker room at halftime with a 42-40 lead.

By the time the players hit the court for the second half, it appeared the Bobcats left their luck in the locker room and Texas Coach Rick Barnes lit a fire under his players. An early jumper by sophomore G/F Damion James put two more on the board and the Horns didn't relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.

Overall the Horns shot 45.3 percent from the field and cleaned the glass 48 times. James contributed 14 of those to lead the team. Junior G A.J. Abrams shot 6-of-14 and 3-of-9 from three-point range. Connor Atchley gave the fans an impressive offensive performance and put up a career-high 26 points and 10 boards. He also led the team my hitting 4-of-5 outside the arc. Sophomore D.J. Augustin, who closely followed Atchley with 24 points, had some kind words of encouragement for his teammate.

"Connor is getting better every day. He is working hard in practice and has a lot of confidence. He is playing great and is going to keep it up and keep playing hard." Augustin said post-game.

Missing all the fun were freshmen forward Gary Johnson, who has yet to see any game time due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition but continues to practice, and freshman G Dogus Balbay, who suffered a right knee injury in October. Sophomore F/C Matt Hill also remained on the bench due to an injured left heel.

A less-than-impressive effort on defense seemed to be the main contribution to the slow start but the fact that he doesn't feel his team has significantly improved over the last few weeks seemed to frustrate Barnes the most.

"Some guys didn't do what they needed to do. We aren't at a point where we can make great plays because we haven't proven that we can consistently stop people," Barnes said. "We need work with our man (coverage). I just don't think we handled it well."

Texas State coach Doug Davalos said the key for them to remain competitive during the game involved playing a lot of players and keeping the ball out of Augustin's hands.

"We actually did things with a purpose today. We learned that we are a pretty good basketball team. I'm disappointed we didn't win the game and that should be our expectation every game." Davalos said

Texas State's offensive performance was led by junior G Brent Benson's 15 points and senior G Brandon Thomas' 10 boards. Overall, the Bobcats hit their target 41.7 percent of the time inside the arc and 34.8 percent outside.

The Texas Longhorn's now set out to beat Oral Roberts on Tuesday. Tip off is at the Frank Erwin Center at 5:30 p.m.

Horns Digest Top Stories