The Longhorns put the clamps on the Hoosiers on Tuesday afternoon and didn’t let them go all game in their 66-44 win over Indiana in the second round of the 2020 Maui Invitational.
Texas played its best defense of the season and put on one of the best defensive performances in program history during the win, which improved the team to 3–0. The Longhorns held the Hoosiers to only 46 field goal attempts, second fewest for an opponent since the 1960-61 season, and Indiana shot only 23.9% on those attempts, the sixth-lowest opposing field goal percentage.
“Today, we led with our defense, and that’s what our identity needs to be,” head coach Shaka Smart said.
Texas narrowly beat Davidson 78-76 Monday to advance to play Indiana, and the one-on-one defense in that game was “not good enough,” Smart said. But the Longhorns turned it around just a day later and were aggressive from the tip.
“Texas stunned our guys tonight in the first four or five minutes,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. “They did a really good job, to be honest with you, making things difficult.”
The Longhorns jumped out to an early 8-3 lead and did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. On the offensive end, senior guard Matt Coleman was the lone bright spot for the Longhorns, leading all scorers with 16 points on 6-11 shooting.
“I’m really hard on Matt, and I was on him in the first half for a couple of plays,” Smart said. “But he did a great job of playing with a level of desperation like you should as a senior guard and knowing that those opportunities are few and far between.”
The rest of the Longhorns relied on getting to the free-throw line to fight through a poor 22-57 shooting night and finish with 66 points. Junior guard Courtney Ramey only shot 3-11 from the field but was 6-6 from the line. Senior forward Jericho Sims was an uncharacteristic 1-5 from the field but was 6-8 from the charity stripe.
Foul trouble once again plagued the Longhorns, who finished with 28 total fouls after fouling 25 times Monday. Freshman forward Greg Brown fouled out in only his 12th minute, and junior forward Kai Jones fouled out and only played 13 minutes.
“We need and want to play with a level of aggressiveness, so if that means we foul sometimes, that’s something we can work on and get better at,” Smart said. “But the aggressiveness has to be there.”
In the absence of Brown and Jones, redshirt sophomore forward Brock Cunningham had one of the best games of his Texas career, leading the team with 11 rebounds and 4 assists in his 31 minutes on the court. Cunningham flew around the floor and created extra possessions time after time in the second half with three offensive rebounds, three steals and an immeasurable amount of hustle, embodying the aggressiveness Smart preached.
“I can’t wait to watch the hustle plays he had today,” Smart said. “That’s one of my favorite things to do is just watch those plays because they’re winning plays and they’re completely selfless plays.”
Senior forward Royce Hamm Jr. also stepped up due to Texas’ foul trouble and played good post defense after the Longhorns had been burned time and time again on Monday against Davidson.
The Longhorns will play the winner of the North Carolina/Stanford game Wednesday at 3 p.m. on ESPN in the championship game of the invitational.