Its jerseys are red, white and blue. The team shows up on the scoreboard as USA, and with the way Southern Alabama shot against Texas in the first half, it might have been the Dream Team.
But there are two halves in basketball, and after making a few defensive adjustments, the Longhorns were able to erase a 17-point half-time deficit to come back and defeat the Jaguars Tuesday night, 84–77.
“We just started the game without any pride or focus,” junior forward Jonathon Holmes said. “We didn’t want to come out of the locker room flat again in the second half, so the upperclassmen just made sure we got it together and came out strong in the second.”
Texas was led by Holmes, who had a career-high 23 points and nine rebounds on the night, including 15 points and six rebounds in the second half.
“I’ve been working on my shot every day,” Holmes said. “I’m trying to get better out there all the time, and I think that showed tonight.”
After trailing by as many as 17 points late in the first half, Texas clawed its way back, chipping away at the lead throughout the second half. Down two points with just over two minutes to go, sophomore guard Javan Felix was able to get to the free-throw line and make both his shots to tie it up at 77-all — which proved to be the beginning of the end for the Jaguars. The Longhorns would go on a 7-0 run from there to seal the victory.
“That’s another big comeback for our team,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought the pace that we played with in the second half, that’s the way we want to play. In the first, we were just out there running around, but in the second, we played with a purpose.”
Once again, Texas’ comeback started with a switch from zone defense to man-to-man. After his zone approach struggled to defend the three ball in the first half, Barnes made the switch to man-to-man in the second.
“The switch to man made a big difference,” sophomore post Prince Ibeh said. “It made it easier to contest the three-point line. When we’re playing from behind, it’s tough to play a zone, so we didn’t have much choice but to play man.”
At 2-0, the Longhorns are not complaining, but Barnes and the team won’t want to make a habit of these come-from-behind victories.