January 3, 2010

Barnes not happy with No.2 Texas' 76-70 win

In the last two months of 2009, the Texas Longhorns overwhelmed their competition in all 12 games by double-digits margins, while ascending to a No.2 ranking in the polls and sending a message that they are a serious national championship contender.

On the second day of a new calendar year, the same Longhorns were served a reminder by a scrappy Texas A&M-Corpus Christi team that entered Saturday's action with a 5-6 record and perhaps little respect - championships are not won in December and they've still got a ways to go before they can potentially cut down any nets.

Yes, the Longhorns won their 13th game of the season with a 76-70 win over the Islanders, but it was easily their most flawed win of the season and the school-record string of double-digit victories to start a season will remain behind them in 2009.

"I am very disappointed in our effort, intensity, and the way we carried ourselves," Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. I thought we missed shots early that affected the way we played. We didn't do anything that we had worked on. It was just a lack of effort and concentration."

How bad was it?

Well, the nation's top rebounding team was dominated on the glass (47-37) by a team that entered the game ranked outside of the top 100 nationally in rebounding.

How bad was it?

The Longhorns were out-shot from the field, free-throw line and three-point line.

The starting guard trio of Avery Bradley, Justin Mason and Dogus Balbay combined for five points and hit zero of four shots from the field in 53 minutes.

"I was sitting there thinking that they might just be able to play through it and figure it out on the court," Barnes said.

It never really happened and had it not been for the strong by play true freshman Jordan Hamilton and senior big man Dexter Pittman, the Longhorns might be talking about their first loss of the season and not just their first close game.

Hamilton came off the bench and scored 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and only one turnover in 21 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Pittman dominated inside, converting six of seven shots to finish with a team-best 18 points.

"The one bright spot was Jordan Hamilton. He tried to do the things that we worked on," Hamilton said. "I also thought that Dexter Pittman tried to do the things that he needed to do, but no one else did what they needed to do. Those two guys were the two guys who really tried to do what they needed to do."

Inside the Numbers

The Longhorns finished the night 23 of 65 from the field (35.4%), seven of 25 (25.0%) from three-point land and were 23 of 33 (69.7%) from the free throw line. The Longhorns beat the Islanders blocks (9-3) and assists (14-10), forced turnovers (25-13), steals (10-7), points in the paint (30-28), points off turnovers (23-16) and bench points (40-6). Both scored six fast-break points, while the Islanders outrebounded Texas (47-37) and edged the Longhorns in second-chance points (26-24).

Star of the game

Hamilton has had an up-and-down freshman season, but Barnes has been very patient with him because the young man just oozes basketball ability out of his pores and he probably put together his best stat-line of the season. On a night when the Longhorns really struggled to play with any kind of cohesion as a team, Hamilton seemed to be in a comfort zone in helping generate 34 points (17 off of assists) in his 21 minutes. His defense is a work in progress, but this is exactly the kind of game Hamilton needed and it's exactly the kind that will get him on the floor for more minutes as the team moves forward.

Unsung hero

While the rest of the Texas guards were missing in action when the team was on offense, Florida-transfer Jai Lucas came off the bench and gave the Longhorns a shot in the arm with a pair of three-pointers and nine total points in 18 turnover-free minutes.

The Thank God I'm Not Bill Murray in the Movie Groundhog Day Award goes to…

True freshman J'Covan Brown has probably had rough night on the basketball court in the past, but perhaps nothing like what he experienced on Saturday, as Brown was two-of-13 from the floor, one-of-seven from three-point range and turned the ball over six times in 26 minutes.

Taking the foot off the glass

It looked like the Longhorns were on their way to another blowout win in the first half when they built a 16-point lead via an 18-0 run during 4:39 stretch in the first half, which was highlighted by a pair of three's by Lucas and another by Hamilton.

However, the Islanders were able to stabilize themselves at the end of the first half and in the beginning of the second half to such a degree that they actually outscored Texas by 10 the rest of the way, including a 41-35 edge in the second half.

The BIG number

6.

That's the number of fast-break points that the Longhorns had on Saturday and the inability to get anything going in transition had a lot to do with the six-point win.

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