The California Baptist Lancers recently made the jump to Division I athletics in 2018 and are not eligible to make the NCAA until the 2022-23 season. Conversely, the Longhorns have played in Division I athletics since the University Division was renamed to Division I in 1973.
Despite the vast differences in the individual programs’ histories, both teams came into Tuesday night’s game with undefeated starts to the season, and only one would leave with its perfect record intact.
California Baptist would hang around with Texas in the first half, trailing by only four points at the end of the first 20 minutes. The Longhorns struggled to shoot the ball on one side of the court, shooting 28.6% from the field and a paltry 12.5% from the three-point line. However, head coach Shaka Smart said Texas played excellent defense out the gate.
“I thought tonight we really started the game with the defensive intensity and effort that we demand out of our guys,” Smart said. “We missed a lot of really open shots. When you’re playing that way on the offensive end, you have to hang your hat on the defense, and I thought our guys did a good job of doing that.”
As the Longhorns headed to the locker room, it was obvious that adjustments had to be made on offense, as the team was underperforming in a way that resembled last year’s upset to Radford following the win over a highly ranked University of North Carolina team.
Adjustments would be successfully made as the team jumped out on a quick 9-0 run to start the half, establishing a more physical presence on both offense and defense. The deficit would only continue to increase for California Baptist as Texas continued to get back to the winning basketball they displayed in the two games prior.
Sophomore guard Courtney Ramey led the charge in the second half, leading the offensive production with 15 second-half points. After being held to only four points in the first half, he would go on to tie his career high with 19 points in the game. He contributed on defense as well, helping to prevent the Lancers from ever gaining a lead.
“It’s just something that happened,” Ramey said. “I had to go on, so I asked for the ball, and they gave it to me. I think that could be the case for anybody. We have a great team, and we have a lot of deep players.”
However, with under 10 minutes left, the Lancers would do its best to cause issues for Texas, getting back to within three points on a three pointer by redshirt junior Ferron Flavors Jr. A few poor offensive possessions coupled with several lapses on defense by the Longhorns allowed California Baptist to claw itself back into the game.
Texas would prevent the comeback from developing completely, reestablishing consistency on both ends of the floor to command a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to go in the game. The Lomghorns would not give up the lead en route to a 67-54 victory.
“These games are harder than they appear on paper,” Smart said. “That’s a lesson that a lot of our guys have learned but sometimes they need to relearn. Cal Baptist is going to win a lot of games this year. They’re dangerous.”
Texas will look to continue its undefeated season against Prairie View A&M on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.