No. 8 Texas reaffirms its identity with rout of Northern Colorado

Nicholas Pannes, Sports Reporter

After falling to No. 1 Gonzaga on the road last Saturday, the Longhorns returned to Frank Erwin Center and rediscovered their identity, playing the aggressive, defense-oriented basketball head coach Chris Beard strives for. 

The 62-49 rout of the Northern Colorado Bears was more one-sided than the scoreboard implied. Save for a short streak of buckets that added 11 points to the Bears’ stat sheet in the final five minutes of play, Texas maintained complete control over the flow of the game.

The Longhorns’ big men were the first to redeem themselves after their loss to Gonzaga. They outscored the Bears 32 to 20 in the paint and out-rebounded them 36 to 27, with an impressive 15 offensive boards.

Junior forward Tre Mitchell, who recorded seven rebounds and led his team with 16 points on the night, credited his coaches for the team’s control off the glass.

“I think our coaches have done an amazing job as far as breaking down film and helping us realize the little things we can do to get more rebounds,” Mitchell said. “(They help us) understand the other team’s personnel: who crashes, who gets back, who’s gonna fight for you every time and who’s gonna fight for a second and then let you go.”

Texas also won the turnover battle 20 to 10 and demonstrated discipline and poise while drawing 18 fouls and only committing nine. Many of those turnovers came in the first few minutes of the game.

According to Mitchell, that’s exactly what his team strives for. If Texas can lock down their opponents and disrupt their tempo early in the game, the team has confidence their wealth of talent will deliver on offense, and the team will grind out a lead.

Other notable performances from the Longhorns included senior forwards Timmy Allen, who led his team with eight rebounds and three assists, adding 10 points of his own, and freshman forward Christian Bishop, who scored nine points in just 15 minutes on the floor.

Despite their success, Beard walked into the postgame press conference with a stoic look strapped to his face. To him, there are clear benchmarks the Longhorns must hit before they reach their full potential.

The first and most glaring issue emerged from beyond the arc. Texas went a dismal 4-18 (22.2%) from three. Ten different players tried their shot from long range and only four made it in. Not a single player scored more than one three on the night.

Given tonight’s dominance in the paint, it’s clear the Longhorns have a diversity of scoring options that they can switch on and off if someone’s not hitting their mark. However, it’s still concerning when a team with gifted shooters like guards Jase Febres and Courtney Ramey can’t produce from deep, especially against an unranked team like the Bears.

But Texas’ floundering defense near the end of the game was what really drew Beard’s ire.

“To compete against the teams we’ll have to compete against, 32 minutes isn’t going to get it done,” Beard said. “We’re gonna have to play 40 to win games that we have quickly coming on the horizon.”