Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Texas drops Big 12 opener to Texas Tech behind soft defense, poor shooting

Lorianne Willett
Forward Dillon Mitchell goes to score during Texas’ game against HCU on Dec. 9, 2023.

Behind red hot shooting from the Red Raiders, No. 20 Texas dropped its final Big 12 season opener at home, falling 78-67 to Texas Tech on Saturday in poor fashion.

Both squads entered the contest at 11–2 with an opportunity to stamp a signature victory in their opening games of conference play. However, due to an inability to generate stops consistently and a clunky offense, Texas found itself on the losing end and with some questions, despite an 11–3 record.

Texas’ offense sputtered in the first half, with only four Longhorns scoring in the first 20 minutes. With graduate guard Max Abmas held in check from beyond the arc, the Longhorns struggled to find a consistent source of offense in a half where they barely shot above 40% from the field.

Abmas started to get loose in the second half, finishing with 18 points and keeping Texas’ offense alive with timely buckets. However, with inconsistent contributions elsewhere, the Longhorns simply couldn’t keep up with Texas Tech’s humming offense.

“It’s what we signed up for,” Abmas said of his first game in the Big 12. “It’s the best league in the country, so we need to bring our A-game every night. It’s a gauntlet so, as coach said, we have to turn the page and go to the next one.”

The Longhorns struggled mightily with Texas Tech’s physicality on both ends all night, burned in particular by Warren Washington, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting. For the buzz the graduate big garnered when he transferred from Virginia, it’s hard to say Kadin Shedrick has lived up to expectations as a rim protector. He and graduate forward Dylan Disu were bullied in the paint all night, and fellow graduate forward Brock Cunningham fouled out in a scoreless outing.

“The biggest thing tonight we were trying to hang our hat on the defensive end of the floor and get some stops,” head coach Rodney Terry said. “We weren’t able to put consecutive stops together and you’ve got to be able to do that.”

Behind Abmas’ shooting, sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell helped to shoulder the load offensively for Texas. While the shooting remains a weak spot, he made his impact felt on the offensive boards and as a lob threat in a 16-point, 11-rebound effort.

Mitchell’s reliable defense gave the Longhorns a fighting chance, slowing down Texas Tech’s Joe Toussaint, who raced out to a quick 13 first-half points. Terry opted to put Dillon Mitchell on Toussaint, and the West Virginia transfer scored just two more points the rest of the way.

With Toussaint in check as a scorer, the Red Raiders pivoted their offense to flow through guard Pop Isaacs. Despite being showered with boos every time he touched the ball, Isaacs silenced the Moody Center crowd with a team-high 21 points, nailing tough jumpers throughout the second half.

Junior guard Tyrese Hunter impressed for Texas, posting 20 points on 50% shooting. He scored effectively from outside as well as in the teeth of the defense, but, defensively, he and Abmas’ inability to contain the Red Raiders’ backcourt stung the Longhorns.

Texas seized the lead in the opening minutes of the second half on a 6-0 run punctuated by a Dillon Mitchell putback, but Texas Tech’s shooting from deep outpaced a Longhorns offense that couldn’t get into a rhythm. Texas kept it close for most of the second half, but with no one outside of Abmas stepping up, it couldn’t keep up with the Red Raiders’ about 50% shooting from outside.

“We definitely need those guys, Shedrick especially, on the offensive to pose some problems on the other team as well,” Terry said. “We’ve got to be able to play through some of that adversity, we’ve got to have some more physicality and really just some want to in that post in terms of, carving out space and wanting to be factors on that end of the floor.”

A pair of missed free throws by Hunter with an opportunity to cut the lead to four near the three-minute mark was a backbreaker, and a Chance McMillian fastbreak dunk two possessions later to extend the lead to 10 sealed the deal for the Red Raiders.

Texas fans headed for the exits with time still on the clock, and Texas Tech chants filled the Moody Center in one of the most forgettable nights of the Rodney Terry era. For a Texas team that had the chance to stake its claim as one of the premier teams in the nation’s best conference in its final year, it’s a tough loss that raises questions about the team’s viability to repeat as Big 12 Champions. Texas now finds itself in a hole with a gauntlet of a schedule looming.

The Longhorns drop to 11–3 on the season and suffer their first loss at home this season. They will head to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats on Tuesday.

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.