The Texas Longhorns looked shell-shocked in the first half of Tuesday night’s game against the South Alabama Jaguars at the Frank Erwin Center as the visitors were lights out from the three point line, taking a 45-31 lead into the locker room. Some obvious adjustments were necessary for the Longhorns in the second half and were made as Texas effectively turned the tables and escaped with a 84-77 victory in front of a sparse weeknight crowd.
South Alabama was an unbelievable 10-21 from the three point line in the first half, shooting Texas out of the base 1-3-1 defensive set which they typically work out of. The Longhorns switched to man-to-man late in the first half and maintained it in the second half, and along with a massive increase in overall energy on both sides of the ball and better ball control found a way to grit out another win to improve to 2-0.
Texas junior combo forward Jonathan Holmes had a career game scoring 23 points on 4-7 from the three point line and 8-16 on the field and made big shots when they mattered most to help Rick Barnes’ squad stay in the contest in the second half and eventually pull away. True freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor was impressive for the second straight contest, using his electric open floor speed to create several easy scoring opportunities for he and his teammates and in general keeping the tempo high and in Texas’ wheelhouse.
Other solid performances from Prince Ibeh — in particular on the defensive end — and Demarcus Holland showed that this Texas team has one definable attribute in the early going which will certainly separate them from 2012’s squad– they’re playing hard for each other and showing fight instead of backing down when the going gets tough. The 2012 version of the Texas team would have crumbled going into the locker room down 14 at home and begun pointing fingers at one another and looking for someone to blame, but it’s obvious the 2013 team doesn’t share this same selfish attitude.
Isaiah Taylor has emerged as the team’s leader, but Javan Felix playing alongside him at shooting guard has been solid as well. Felix again showed a solid ability to drive to the basket and create as well as hit the open jumper when it was made available to him.
The biggest takeaway so far through two games is that this Texas team will have to grit out wins all season long against opponents who a few years ago would have been an afterthought. It should be comforting for Longhorns hoops fans to know, however, that they appear to have a different attitude and the heart to do just that.
There don’t seem to be many divas in this Longhorns squad. At least, we’re not seeing it yet.
Texas returns to the floor on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center as they welcome the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks to the Drum.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.