Hamilton’s first half sets tone against Pokes

Dan Hurwitz

Jordan Hamilton scored all 15 points in the first half of Wednesday’s 73-55 win over Oklahoma State.

The early spark helped Texas once again to get off to a first-half double-digit lead. He made his first three three-point attempts and four free throws in the first nine minutes. Add on four rebounds, an assist on a monstrous alley-oop dunk to Tristan Thompson and a block on an Oklahoma State fast break, and that’s a solid day’s work.

But Hamilton did so much more than score in the opening half.

He drew double teams, which left his teammates open. He held the Cowboys’ third leading scorer Jean-Paul Olukemi to three points. He did a little coaching from the court. He got a chance to rest up for the Longhorns’ next game against Nebraska on Saturday. And he frustrated another opposing coach.

“He’s one of the best,” said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford. “No question, he’s one of the best.”

As Texas’ leading scorer and rebounder, Hamilton becomes the center of attention for its opponents. Ford was well aware of what Hamilton was capable of.

“He put 28 [points] on us last year, so I’ve always had a high amount of respect for him,” Ford said.

Hamilton was primarily a scorer last season, with the majority of his attempts coming from three pointers. This season, he’s showed he can score by driving to the basket and posting up. On offense, he constantly runs around screens trying to get open. He is the Longhorns’ first option on offense and the opposition’s first guy to try to stop on defense.

“We know guys [have a] game plan for him,” said forward Gary Johnson. “When he gets open and he’s able to knock down shots, it sends the message that he’s going to do what he’s going to do. That opens up a lot of shots for me, Tristan, Cory [Joseph], Dogus [Balbay].”

Hamilton missed 11 of his final 12 shots, but still made his presence felt on the court. At various times throughout the game, he had a few words with freshman Tristan Thompson to keep his spirits up.

For most of the game, he didn’t even need to be on the court. With the game in hand early in the second half, Hamilton only played nine minutes. His 26 minutes were his fewest in 10 games.

He wasn’t needed after halftime — he got a game’s worth done in a half.