Longhorns secure season-opening victory over Houston Baptist

Christina Huang, Sports Reporter

Texas men’s basketball sat near the top of several preseason rankings, sitting among basketball blue bloods like Kansas, UCLA and Michigan.

Yet during the Longhorns’ season-opening 92-48 win over Houston Baptist on Tuesday at the Frank Erwin Center, moments of sloppy play cropped up that do not necessarily correlate with a team boasting a No. 5 national ranking.

“Our biggest goal is being the best offensive team in the country,” senior guard Courtney Ramey said.

A small mixture of growing pains and some first day jitters prevented the Longhorns from reaching that goal in the season opener — Texas made 15 out of 23 free-throw attempts in the first half. The Longhorns will need to make free throws more consistently to beat opponents such as Big 12 foes Kansas and Baylor.

Head coach Chris Beard is well aware of some of the defensive issues that slowed down the Longhorns. The Huskies managed to grab 16 offensive rebounds, and Texas only outrebounded them by one.

“I would fire the rebounding coach, but I think that’s me, so I’ve got to figure that out quickly, ” Beard said. “That’s on me.”

Texas fans will hope the moments of hesitation and missed opportunities are just part of the learning curve of putting together what is essentially a brand new team. The question surrounding the Longhorns is not a question of whether they are a talented group, but whether all of the pieces will fit. Senior guard Marcus Carr, junior forward Tre Mitchell and senior forward Christian Bishop were just a couple of players who lived up to their preseason hype.

Junior forward Tre Mitchell juggles the basketball in Texas’ 92-48 victory over Houston Baptist on Tuesday night at the Frank Erwin Center. Leila Saidane/The Daily Texan

Carr furthered his reputation as a floor general with 10 points, three rebounds and five assists. The Minnesota transfer was a true alpha on the court, making shots himself and helping those around him score. Christian Bishop was a lockdown defender in the first half, stifling the Huskies’ offense. Mitchell dominated the second half, finishing the game with ten points, four rebounds and two steals.

Even though the Longhorns pulled out a win, they did not come out firing on all cylinders as they might have been expected to. Houston Baptist caused some problems for Texas when the Huskies should not have been a threat at all. For reference, Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney placed the Huskies at No. 352 in his ranking of all 358 Division I college men’s basketball teams. Sweeney put the Longhorns firmly at No. 2, only behind Gonzaga.

Tuesday night’s game was more of a test of whether the Longhorns could find their rhythm and build a base for an identity for the rest of the season. A win is a win, but more importantly the foundation for the home of Texas basketball needed to be laid on Tuesday. A real assessment of whether Texas can hang with the big dogs will come Saturday night when the Longhorns travel to Spokane to battle No.1 Gonzaga.