No. 8 Texas pushes to continue successful run vs. California Baptist

NCAA Men's Basketball

No. 8 Texas has used its defensive chops and depth to overwhelm opponents in its three wins this season and will call on that formula again on Wednesday when it hosts California Baptist in Austin, Texas, in the finale of the inaugural Abe Lemons Classic.

The Longhorns (3-1) play the third game of a five-game homestand after dominating San Jose State 79-45 on Saturday behind Timmy Allen’s 17 points. Tre Mitchell added 14 points for the Longhorns, with Andrew Jones hitting for 13 and Brock Cunningham scoring a career-high 10.

Texas overwhelmed San Jose State from the start and never looked back as it led by 18 points nearly nine minutes into the game, by 30 at halftime and by 34 points with 7:54 left before waltzing to the finish line. The Longhorns outshot San Jose State 51.8 percent to 31.9 percent, forced 27 Spartans turnovers, posted a season-high 16 steals and finished with 36 points in the paint.

“There are lessons along the way,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “We have to get to where we are playing the game, not the scoreboard. We had some good spurts in the second half, but we have to get better every day.”

Texas has held three of its first four opponents this season to under 50 points. Still, Beard was not satisfied that his team let its foot off the gas, albeit momentarily, at the beginning of the second half.

“We can’t come out in the second half and be flat just because we (have) the lead,” Allen said. “With our goals, that’s not acceptable.”

Beard expects no one to take off plays because if one player does, the other four on the floor look as if they aren’t doing their jobs, too.

“Basketball is a team game — it’s the ultimate team game, right?” Beard explained. “We don’t have an offense and defense; we have five guys out there. So, four guys make the play and that one guy makes a mistake — that’s what we are trying to work on. Until we get to the point where five guys are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then we’ll have some nights like tonight.”

The Lancers head to Austin after a 74-70 home win over Northern Colorado on Sunday. Taran Armstrong scored a career-high 19 points for California Baptist (5-0) while Daniel Akin added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Tre Armstrong and Reed Nottage had 11 points each in the win. It’s the best start for California Baptist since joining Division I in 2018.

The Lancers took charge in a back-and-forth game on a three-point play by Taran Armstrong with 5:14 and hit their final six free throws down the stretch to cement the victory.

“We talked a lot before the game about resolve,” California Baptist coach Rick Croy said after the win. “And we thought the team that showed the most resolve and the greatest resolve would ultimately come out on top. We weathered some storms, and we were able to keep it close. We were much more efficient offensively in the second half.”

–Field Level Media

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