Freshman guard Andrew Jones craftily pickpocketed an Angelo State ball-handler, raced up the court, and threw down a ferocious two-handed slam.
A possession later, freshman big-man Jarrett Allen threw up a three-pointer as the shot clock winded down and hit the bottom of the net.
The two plays put an exclamation point on a 21-0 first-half run that helped the Longhorns seize control of Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Rams, in which Texas cruised to a 95-55 victory. Head coach Shaka Smart said the team’s defensive effort sparked the run.
“We are able to turn some defense into offense and get some stops and go the other way,“ Smart said. “Angelo State took a lot of threes, and we were able to get some long rebounds and get out and do some things.”
Prior to the run, the Longhorns trailed 10-8 a quarter through the first half and were victim of poor 2-10 shooting. But sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. ignited Texas with a three-point play to take the lead, and the team never looked back.
The exhibition showcased Texas’ talented class of freshman. Guard Jacob Young finished as the high-point man, scoring 21 points. He was a marksman from behind the arc, hitting four threes on eight attempts. Jones finished with 17 points, and dished out a team-high five assists.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Young said. “I had to get myself mentally and physically prepared before the game. I know it’s an exhibition game, but I took it seriously like it was a real game.”
Allen, who saw his first court action this year, notched a double-double. The center finished with 14 points and eleven rebounds in his debut. Senior center Shaquille Cleare sang the praises of the young big man after the game, highlighting his athleticism.
“[Allen’s] a beast,” Clear said. “I’m just excited to see where he is mid-season, going into the postseason, because [Allen’s] so coachable.”
Due to suspension, the Longhorns were without the services of sophomore guards Kerwin Roach Jr. and Tevin Mack. But the play of Jones, Young, Davis Jr, and senior guard Kendal Yancy more than compensated for their absence. The four players combined for 59 points on an impressive 23-44 shooting.
“This opportunity was great,” Jones said. “Coach [Smart] shows a lot of faith and confidence in me, and I wanted to prove that I am capable and able to run the point guard position.”
Defensively, the Longhorns were stifling. The team held Angelo state to 27 percent shooting, and forced a whopping twenty turnovers. Jones led the way with three steals, while six other players played the role of pickpocket. Cleare and freshman center James Banks provided solid rim-protection, each finishing with two blocks.
Texas gets their regular season kicked off Nov. 11 against Incarnate Word.