The No. 8 Longhorns are banking on the principle that “defense wins championships.” Their offense continues to struggle, but their defense is as good as anyone after holding Texas State to 27 in a 59-27 blowout Saturday night—the fewest points Texas has allowed since holding Houston YMCA to 23 back in 1946.
From the beginning, Texas’ pile of giants in the post complemented pesky junior guard Demarcus Holland to give Texas State few clean looks. Even when Texas State did get open looks, it couldn’t connected. In the first half, the Bobcats (5-2) managed a meager 9 points on 16 percent shooting.
“We are a good defensive team,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “When we get big out there like we can, it’s a hard team to score on.”
The second half didn’t go much better for Texas State. The Bobcats finished the game shooting 22 percent from the field and, to emphasize their poor shooting night, 30 percent from the free throw line.
“That was the worst any team of mine has ever performed, offensively speaking,” said Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar.
While the defense for Texas (8-1) looked championship good, the offense didn’t even look NIT good.
“We were absolutely awful on offense,” Barnes said.
Instead of sticking with junior Javan Felix at the point, Barnes shifted Demarcus Holland to the point, while plugging sophomore Kendal Yancy in at shooting guard to start the game. The lineup was the latest iteration of Barnes' search for the right frontcourt combination in Isaiah Taylor’s absence (wrist).
But after just 1:30 of that experiment, Barnes went back to Felix.
“How do you not execute the very first play?” Barnes said in reference to yanking Yancy early.
Yancy finished with just 2 points, but did well on the boards, hauling in eight. Felix, on the other hand, bounced back from a dud at Kentucky to score 10 points on just two turnovers against a Bobcat team that came into the game sixth in the nation in steals.
Despite Texas’ smoother offensive second half, the Longhorns still committed 19 turnovers for the game, which Barnes wasn’t happy about.
“We don’t try hard on offense,” Barnes said. “Too methodical, not fighting for our space, not playing hard. Not playing hard at all.”
Junior Cameron Ridley bounced back nicely from a few bad games to pace the Longhorns with 14, while Felix was the only other Longhorn in double digits. Junior forward Connor Lammert led the Longhorns on the board with 10.
It was an odd off day for senior forward Jonathan Holmes who recorded a season-low 3 points, as he attempted just five shots in 12 minutes.
“We know we can defend,” Barnes said. “At some point we got to understand that we got to play hard on ‘O.’”
Texas will look to figure out that offensive rhythm Tuesday night against Lipscomb. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.