Tyrese Hunter, defense propel No. 11 Texas basketball to statement win over No. 2 Gonzaga


Julius Shieh

Sophomore Tyrese Hunter advances down the court while dribbling during a game against UT El Paso on Nov. 07, 2022. The Longhorns won 72-57.

Payne Williams, Senior sports reporter

All cylinders fired on Wednesday night for No. 11 Texas men’s basketball in its decisive 93-74 statement victory over No. 2 Gonzaga at the Moody Center.

Texas hosted Gonzaga in the two teams’ second contest in as many years, and the top-15 matchup marked the Bulldogs’ first true road non-conference game since 2019. The Longhorns fell last year to Gonzaga on the road, but Texas took advantage of its new home-court advantage in a dominant fashion.

“(That loss) has always been in the back of our minds. That loss is something we didn’t forget,” graduate student Marcus Carr said. “We thought we owed them one.”

The Longhorns displayed commanding defensive and offensive efforts throughout the first half despite Texas starting the game 3-for-12 shooting.

Gonzaga went 4-for-4 from behind the arc prior to missing its first 3-pointer with 10 minutes left in the first half. By that point, though, the Longhorns had figured out their shot. 

A 3-pointer by Carr ignited life in the Longhorns and the sold-out crowd at the Moody Center. 

“We have good shooters,” head coach Chris Beard said. “I thought we shot really well tonight.”

Carr’s 3-pointer started a surging offensive effort for Texas. The Longhorns scored from nearly every end of the court, including a slashing dunk by freshman Dillon Mitchell midway through the first half.

With help from Tyrese Hunter, sophomore Iowa State transfer, the Longhorns went on a 14-4 run toward the end of the half, and the momentum was all theirs. Texas entered halftime with a 47-37 lead over the Bulldogs.

Hunter didn’t lose a step out of halftime with five 3-pointers in the second half. The sophomore paced the Longhorns with 26 points — a career high for the former Big 12 Freshman of the Year. 

The sophomore mentioned one play in particular where the floodgates opened for him.

“When I came off the pick … I shot it, and it went in, and I knew it was going to be one of those nights,” Hunter said. “Shoutout to my teammates for finding me and believing in me.”

Texas kept Gonzaga at arms-length for much of the second half behind a swarming defense that forced 20 turnovers. The Longhorns pushed their lead to as high as 23 points, and the win was all but sealed after two crowd-elevating alley-oops slammed down by Mitchell.

While still early in the season, Texas has thrown its name in the hat of national contenders after its dominant win over perennial powerhouse Gonzaga.

“The exciting thing is we’re just getting started,” Beard said.