On Tuesday night, Texas would be called upon to defend an undefeated record on its home floor. One problem stood in the way: The team would be without star freshman forward Mo Bamba, who suffered a concussion during practice on Sunday.
But the rest of the Longhorns would take care of business against New Hampshire, readily disposing the team that made a 2,000-mile trip to the Frank Erwin Center. When the final buzzer sounded, Texas came away with a 78-60 victory.
“Mo’s a great player, but we’ve got 12 other scholarship guys, so if one goes down, we’ve got a whole lot of dudes that will step up and fill in his absence,” transfer junior forward Dylan Osetkowski said.
Just 20 seconds into the game, Osetkowski confidently nailed a three from the top of the key to give Texas a 3-0 lead. In the absence of his frontcourt counterpart and the team’s leading scorer, Osetkowski would take over as the team’s offensive leader on Tuesday night.
The first-year Longhorn finished with a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double — his second of the young season. Osetkowski utilized his physicality down low and his arsenal of post moves consistently powered him past New Hampshire defenders.
Head coach Shaka Smart claims Osetkowski is his team’s “Draymond Green,” always bringing the aggressive mentality to the hardwood. This style of play succeeded Tuesday night, as Texas drew 21 fouls in a physical game where no basket in the paint was guaranteed.
“When (Osetkowski’s) out there having fun, playing with a clear mind, trying to be a leader with his teammates, trying to orchestrate our offense, defense and talking at a high level, then he’s really good,” Smart said.
One of the players who stepped up to make an impact was forward Jericho Sims. It was a particularly special night for the freshman, who scored eight points and blocked three shots in his first collegiate start.
“This is all so new to him,” Smart said. “Of all of our freshmen, he’s had the biggest jump in terms of level and competition night in and night out compared to what he saw last year. But you see some glimpses of what he can do out there.”
Texas did not pull away from New Hampshire until the tail end of the first half. The Wildcats were within six points with 3:45 remaining but they kept gifting Texas free throw attempts, and the Longhorns concluded the half with a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.
“We were in a good spot late in the first half,” New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said. “We had a little control on our end, and then we foul a cutter off a back screen when he doesn’t have the ball, and then they just paraded to the free throw line the last five minutes of the first half.”
Texas scored 39 points in each half, displaying offensive consistency throughout. But the team improved its field goal percentage with time and looked much more adept at the three-point ball in the second half en route to a 2–0 start to the season.
“It’s only been two games,” junior guard Eric Davis Jr. said. “We can keep growing. We don’t want to get complacent and harp on the positives too much. Our main thing we’re focusing on is continuing to get better.”
Texas will continue its early non-conference schedule on Saturday when the Longhorns host Lipscomb. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m.