Horns Blow It Open In Second Half Against UTA

Even when Superman had a bad day at the office, the No. 3 Texas men's basketball team overcame 23 turnovers and a sagging zone defense to pull away from Texas-Arlington, 76-45, at the Erwin Center Wednesday. On the heels of being named Big 12 Player of the Week, sophomore G <B>T.J. Ford </b>endured his most frustrating outing as Longhorn with a career-high nine turnovers, 2-of-5 shooting from the floor and just three assists.

"He probably had as tough a night as he's had since he's been here," head coach Rick Barnes said of his marquee player. "You can tell he got a little flustered because he's such a competitive person. He wants to make it happen all the time. It seems like the harder he tried, the worse he got."

Barnes said earlier this season that few appreciate what Ford can do when he does not have the ball. The first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists, Ford did everything in this outing but dish and score profusely.

"In the second half I thought he came back and did a great job defensively," Barnes added. "I thought his ball pressure was key for us."

Texas out-rebounded the Mavericks 42-30 and held them to a 34 percent shooting night (27.6 percent in the second half), connecting on 18-of-53 attempts.

Deginald Erskin started at forward in place of Brian Boddicker, as Barnes experimented with lineups and substituted liberally throughout the game. (In fact, nine Texas players have averaged at least 9.5 minutes per game while seeing action in both of the first two outings).

The Mavericks jumped to a 5-2 lead before Texas got untracked with nine unanswered points.

Thirteen first-half Texas turnovers led directly to 12 points for the Movin' Mavs who kept it close at intermission, 33-25, annoying the Horns with their unrelenting zone. Texas was 3-of-12 from beyond the arc and posted a scant 16-15 rebounding edge during the first 20 minutes.

"I thought we were too hesitant against their zone," G Royal Ivey said. "We didn't move the ball as well as we should have. We didn't attack it enough, and coach wants us to be an attacking team."

The Horns opened the second half with a 15-2 run, in part, because they resisted the temptation of rushing wide-open three-point shots and instead played vintage Barnes basketball by creating offense off of defense. In the end, Texas converted 29 UTA turnovers into 31 points.

"I talked to the team (at halftime) about being in a hurry and doing things we don't need to do like trying to hit the homerun instead of working the game," Barnes said. "In the second half, I thought the guys really played to their strengths. We started getting penetration. I think any time you come down the floor and want to settle for jacking up a three, you can do it. Early in the game, we did that. If the truth be known, some guys were open by design."

Texas attempted just six 3-point shots in the second half, connecting on two.

Barnes' game plan included taking away the visitor's high-low game. With but 5:51 elapsed in the second half, F Mack Callier went to the bench with his fifth personal foul while C Roy Johnson was addled with four. F Derrick Obasohan led all scorers with 17 (6-of-14 FG, 4-6 FT).

Ford was 0-for-3 until he sank a 19-foot jumper to put Texas up 44-27 with 15:01 remaining. Freshman F Brad Buckman blocked shots on each of the Mav's next three possessions but it was C Jason Klotz's steal and slam dunk after driving the length of the court that finally woke up genteel Erwin Center crowd of 8,375. Texas led, 46-27.

Not to be outdone, Buckman would steal a F Kenneth Henderson pass and go the distance for the jam to give Texas its largest lead at 76-42 with 1:45 remaining. The heralded freshman would finish with eight points on a 4-of-7 shooting night.

C James Thomas paced the Horns with 14 points (5-of-6 FG, 4-4 FT) and 15 boards in registering his 14th career double-double. Ivey contributed 13 points (5-9 FG, 2-3 FT), four steals and three assists.

As a whole, Barnes wants improvement from his team that shot 50.8 percent from the field (32-63 FG, 5-18 3-PT).

"For us to be the team we want to be we have got to be a better offense," Barnes said.

And in a hurry. Texas faces Seton Hall at the Space City Hoops Classic in Houston at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Horns square off against George Washington (12 p.m., CST, Raycom Sports) and possible defending national champion Maryland at the BB&T Classic in Washington D.C. the following weekend. Then, it's the desert showdown at top-ranked Arizona on Sunday, Dec. 15 (3:30 p.m., CST Fox Sports Net).

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