November 22, 2006

Horns beat Nicholls State after sluggish start

The No. 25 Texas Longhorns ran their record to 4-1 with a 91-60 win over Nicholls State (0-6) Tuesday night, but the performance of the young Texas team was spotty at best. Texas came out slow and without energy other than the hot three-point shooting of A.J. Abrams and the solid play of Justin Mason.

Abrams scored 20 first-half points on six of nine three-point shooting and needed every one of those points in a first half that was anything but solid. While the Longhorns led 46-31 at the half, the team lacked intensity and energy early on with the defensive effort lacking in rotation and transition.

Abrams received help in the first help by a solid effort from Justin Mason, who made his first start. Mason scored eight first-half points.

The Colonels stayed close until the closing minutes of the opening half behind the three-point shooting of Ryan Bathie. Bathie hit four first half three-pointers to lead Nicholls State with14 points.

Texas turned up the pressure in the second half, trapping full court and looking to trap any passes to the corners in the half court. The result was increased pace and some easy scoring opportunities in transition and in the paint. Mason led the attack early in the second half and got help from Kevin Durant and Damion James.

Nicholls State forward Adonis Gray kept the Colonels in the game in the second half before the Longhorns pulled away. Gray led Nicholls State with 26 points.

The Longhorns connected on 10 three-pointers for the third time in five games and out rebounded the Colonels 57-29.

Abrams cooled in the second half, but led the Longhorns with 23 points. Durant scored 21 points for a fifth straight game scoring 20 or more and Mason recorded a career-high 15.

The Longhorns return to the court next Tuesday when they play host to Texas Southern.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

Texas shot 47.3 percent (35-74) overall, 37.0 percent (10-27) from the three-point line and 64.7 percent (11-17) from the foul line.

Nicholls State countered by shooting 33.9 percent (21-62) from the field, 27.3 percent (9-33) from three and 69.2 percent (9-13) from the free throw line.

Texas won the battle of the boards 57-29. Nicholls State turned the ball over 14 times to 13 by Texas.

Texas scored 48 points in the paint to 20 for the Colonels.

THE GOOD

Abrams came out with the hot shooting hand again at home. He has connected on 27 of 49 three-pointers this season and is averaging 19.6 points on the season. Abrams scored 23 Tuesday night to go with five assists, five steals and four rebounds.

Durant recorded another double-double and is averaging 22.4 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Mason made the most of his first start setting a career high with 15 points.

D.J. Augustin dished out eight assists (only three turnovers) and is averaging 7.4 per contest.

Dexter Pittman had his best game as a Longhorn, scoring eight points and pulling down six rebounds.

Connor Atchley was more active on both ends than the last three games.

Craig Winder delivered 13 very active minutes off the bench grabbing seven rebounds, blocking two shots and recording a steal. Winder can help the Longhorns if he will bring that type of energy with improved decision-making in the half court offense.

THE BAD

Man to man defense was not pretty in he first half as Nicholls State got too many clean looks at the basket.

Texas shot only 64.7 percent from the foul line, which is not taking advantage for a team with many shooters.

Texas committed too many unforced turnovers.

OVERALL

Texas beat a bad team by 31 points, but the start lacked energy. With one tune up left before a match-up with Gonzaga on December 2, the Longhorns must get a better start against Texas Southern next Tuesday and sustain a high level of play.


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