Longhorns swarm Tulane 76-51

The #7 Texas Longhorns took the court Tuesday night with a final tune-up before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.

The Texas Longhorns played the role of piranha on Tuesday night with the Tulane Green Wave playing the unfortunate role of devoured opponent to the tune of 76-51. The Texas defense was swarming from the outset creating steals and transition scoring opportunities behind the quick hands of Damion James and Justin Mason.

James led the way early for the Longhorns with seven points as Texas opened up a double-digit lead, 21-11, eleven minutes into the game. With Mason assisting and creating turnovers, the Longhorns only need an added offensive spark to create added separation.

Gary Johnson provided the scoring punch off the bench with nine first half points to go with six rebounds.

Sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay entered the game with 13 minutes to play in the opening half and added even more energy off the bench. The fleet footed guard pressured the ball as Mason and A.J. Abrams had before him pushing Tulane offense 30 feet or more away from the basket and subsequently forcing turnovers.

Abrams supplied offense along with James and Johnson scoring 10 first half points. The Longhorns jogged to the locker room with a 42-25 lead. Mason finished the half with five assists.

The second half was more of the same with the Longhorns applying full court man-to-man pressure. Tulane turned the ball over on three straight possessions at one point early in the second half as the Longhorns extended the lead to 52-25.

Dexter Pittman then went to work after Tulane big bodied forward Robinson Louisme picked up his fourth foul three minutes in the half. Pittman responded with the decided size advantage scoring six points in two minutes as the Longhorns extended the lead to more than 30 points at 59-27.

The Longhorns continued to apply suffocating ball pressure with the big men getting into the act. Connor Atchley had his hand on a pair of turnovers and took advantage of scoring opportunities knocking down a sky-hook and converting free throws.

The Longhorns, who feature a random ball screen offense, continued their early season theme of working on the motion offense.

James led Texas, who scored 39 points off turnovers and 17 fast break points, with 16 points and eight rebounds. Joining James in double figures were Abrams with 15, Atchley 12, Johnson 11 and Pittman with 10.

The lone double figured scorer for Tulane was point guard Kevin Sims with 11 points. The Green Wave committed 25 turnovers in the game.

Next up for the Longhorns will be St. Joe's in the opening round of the Maui Invitation November 24 at 2pm central.

A Look at the Numbers

Texas shot 48.2% (27-56) from the floor, 23.1% (3-13) from three and 57.6% (19-33) from the free throw line.

The Green Wave managed just 31% (18-58) overall, 25% (6-24) from the three-point line and 52.9% (9-17) from the foul line.

Texas won the battle of the boards 46-35 and the turnover battle 25 to 19.

The Good

Texas defensive ball pressure was terrific again. Whether it was straight man or full court pressure with the occasional trap look, the Longhorns gave the Green Wave fits.

Damion James, Justin Mason, A.J. Abrams and Dogus Balbay created multiple steals and deflections in the opening half resulting in several run outs and fast break points.

Texas did a good job of switching and playing under when Tulane ran the weave instead of playing too aggressive creating dribble handoffs that create straight line drives.

The Longhorns did a much better job tonight of looking to the post, spacing the floor and creating quality post entry angles. Connor Atchley again scored on a give and go after a post feed and cut when his defender turned his head.

A.J. Abrams did a much better job of pushing the ball tonight. Because he is not going to break down defense in the half court, his ability to push the ball and create scoring opportunities due to numbers is where he will have success.

Gary Johnson and Dogus Balbay brought tremendous energy off the bench. Johnson played rugged, caught the ball deep in the post and scored over Tulane forwards that were similar size, but not nearly as strong or athletic.

Balbay push the ball in transition and showed flashes of his impressive court vision in the open court. He pressured the ball the entire time he was on the court.

Justin Mason played a very good all-around game. He finished with seven points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals as well as a number of high-flying plays.

Dexter Pittman had a trio of scoring plays in the second half. After Tulane forward Robinson Louisme picked up his fourth foul, Tulane had no answer for Pittman, but kept playing man to man.

Clint Chapman played with all out hustle coming away with five rebounds in 14-minutes and kept a handful of plays alive with hustle.

Tulane played man only. This was good for Texas as it allowed the Longhorns to work on their motion offense. Texas wanted to work on their motion offense against Stetson, but the Hatters played a 3-2 zone for the most part. Why Tulane played man only is in question, but it allowed the staff to get a look at the motion offense. Expect more of the random ball screen offense to return in Maui although St. Joe's will likely play some zone.

The Bad

While Balbay brought energy, he picked up his dribble in the half court way too much. Against a better defensive team, Balbay would have committed two or three turnovers. Along with picking up the ball, the sophomore must be tighter with the ball. Too many times, he dribbled with the ball too far out in front of him. That will present an issue against a quality defensive on the ball team.

Free throw shooting was poor again. It was another game shooting under 60% after a better start. Mason missed several late.

James and Chapman committed fouls on three-point attempts. They must do a better job of closing out under control.

Even though the game was played at a quick tempo, the Longhorns have to work on their transition defense. Against a quality opponent, there would have been a handful of run out opportunities and easy scores.

The last few minutes of the game were very sloppy. Lack of focus and poor spacing and timing were the keys to the lackluster finish.

Overall

The Longhorns have handled business and have many positive thoughts headed to Hawaii. The defensive effort has been where it needs to be as the competition takes a step up.

Offensively, the Longhorns are working on their motion offense so they have options other than the ball/screen game in the half court. Because Abrams and James are both at their best in catch and shoot situations, having the ability to run some motion offense is key.

St. Joe's should present the best test yet for the Longhorns, but they did drop a game last night to Holy Cross 73-69 after surrendering a double-digit lead in the second half. St. Joe's lost two key players up front and will face a tough task rebounding against Texas.


Horns Digest Top Stories