Texas freshman Mo Bamba returned to action for the Longhorns on Saturday, signaling that the paint was, once again, closed for business.
Texas’ prized forward set the tone early in the first half, leaping up as his 7-foot-9-inch wingspan easily swatted a shot as it floated high above the rim. Bamba immediately jogged down the floor and pinned his man deep, leading to one dribble and a easy hookshot on the other end.
In addition to four first-half blocks, Bamba recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes of action as the Longhorns bullied Lipscomb 80-57 on Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center.
With Bamba patrolling the lane, the Bison’s in-and-out game fell flat.
“Our plan was, when the ball went into the post, was to play complete one-on-one defense and keep the other four guys locked onto their shooters.” head coach Shaka Smart said.
Moving to 3–0 on the season, Texas controlled the tempo on both ends but was unable to get its offense going from the outside.
Despite a renewed emphasis from Texas’ coaching staff on the three, neither team managed to shoot the ball well, connecting on a combined 5 of the 39 attempts. The first triple for Texas didn’t come until only six minutes remained in the first half, after seven missed looks.
“I don’t think it's panic time yet, but we need to shoot the ball better in order to be effective,” Smart said.
Lipscomb managed only three assists in the contest and shot 29 percent from the floor, 8 percent from deep as outside shots became continually more contested in the face of a closed off paint.
“Coming into the game, our theme was no more than eight threes for them,” junior guard Kervin Roach said. “It's something we always practice. High hands, close out, make them put in on the floor.”
Faced with ice-cold shooting of its own, Texas turned to a full court press midway through the first. That press took the Longhorns from a 3-point lead to a 14-point lead at the half, propelled by Roach’s defensive intensity.
“The crazy thing is that it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet,” Bamba said. “But what he (Roach) did for us, he completely took out one of the nation’s leading scorers at the Division 1 level, and that's bigtime.”
In addition to his defensive effort, Roach scored a team-high 16 points and only missed a single shot to go along with two rebounds and an assist. The credit for his defense? His big man down low.
“I know that if I get beat, he got me.” Roach said.
Texas looks to build on its unbeaten start with a road game against Butler on Thursday, part of a three-game stretch in Oregon.