Jay Bilas

Photo Credit: Nate Davis | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorn faithful had been lively since the early morning. They arrived in droves with creative signs, uproarious chants and unwavering support for Texas before its sellout matchup with No. 12 Oklahoma on Saturday evening.

ESPN’s College GameDay crew of Rece Davis, Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg and Jay Bilas broadcasted their show live from the Frank Erwin Center in the morning, hours prior to Texas’ highly anticipated matchup with Trae Young and the Sooners.

“I’m with three smart alecks up there,” Williams said. “Jay Bilas always comes back with zingers, and Rece is the guy that sets you up for failure sometimes if you don’t pay attention to how he sets you up. That’s what happens when you’re part of a team. Guys play practical jokes. We’re around each other 24/7, so it’s great.”

College GameDay made its third visit to Austin. Texas won each of the previous two games. On Saturday evening, Texas did it again. This time, the Longhorns erased a 10-point second-half deficit to upset the Sooners, 79-74, behind a game-high 22 points from freshman guard Matt Coleman.

After settling into town, Greenberg and Davis were excited to eat Austin barbecue, Bilas looked forward to the local tacos but the entire crew wondered what the atmosphere would look like come Saturday morning.

“It’s one of the great cities of any of the college campuses that we go to,” Davis said. “Everybody here is always really hospitable to us. It’s going to create a great environment for both the show and the game.”

Davis and the GameDay crew challenged Texas fans to wake up early and pack the Erwin Center for the televised broadcast after they struggled to generate a massive audience during ESPN’s last visit in 2009. The turnout on Saturday morning exceeded expectations, as hundreds of students formed lines outside the entrances hours before the show commenced.

“It doesn’t matter to us how many people come,” Bilas said. “We love to have more rather than less. But for us, it’s more of the game and covering the game. We do the show for people at home, but there’s always a flavor of where we are.”

One major reason ESPN headed to Austin was to discuss the marquee matchup between two of the nation’s top freshmen. Texas center Mo Bamba and Oklahoma point guard Trae Young would share an arena for the first of two times during the 2017–18 season.

“(I want to see) if Trae can score 40,” Davis said. “He’s must-see TV. And I want to see if any shot in the paint off the hand of an Oklahoma player makes it to the basket without being swatted away by Mo Bamba.”

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte was present, along with defensive end Charles Omenihu, and the two dispensed donuts and coffee to attendees. Students also received free “Boom AJ1” T-shirts, similar to Texas’ warm-up apparel in support of sophomore guard Andrew Jones as he continues his fight with leukemia.

At the conclusion of the broadcast, Jay Williams ripped off his suit to reveal a Jones jersey underneath. Williams rallied the crowd with an “An-DREW, An-DREW” chant. Earlier in the show, a Tom Rinaldi feature on Jones’ diagnosis and illness was displayed on the video board. The tear-jerking segment included emotional interviews from Texas head coach Shaka Smart and several of Jones’ close teammates.

“I’m wearing a burnt orange tie in honor of Andrew Jones,” Greenberg said. “It’s amazing how this team has been able to stay together without one of their own. I did the Texas-Alabama game in Birmingham when Andrew was out. He sat with me for two days in practice, and I was blown away by him as a human being.”

Former Texas point guard Doğuş Balbay was known more for his defense and ability to move the ball than his offense during his three-year tenure with the Longhorns from 2008-2011.

Photo Credit: Caleb Miller | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is part of a weekly series looking back at past Texas athletes and where they are now. This week features former men’s basketball point guard Doğuş Balbay, who played for Texas from 2008-2011.

Doğuş Balbay has always had the same scouting report: He can move the ball well and play strong defense, but he just can’t shoot.

In his three years at Texas from 2008-2011, Balbay never averaged more than 4.2 points per game, despite playing around 20 minutes in nearly each match. Actually, the 6-foot-1 point guard attempted only two long balls in his senior year.

But he always did the little things right for the Longhorns.

“I want to play hard, play defense and help my teammates both offensively and defensively,” Balbay said his sophomore year. “I have to be a leader when I’m on the court, I have to listen to my coach, and I know I need to talk on the court. That’s all I need to do.”

And the experts agreed, as ESPN analyst Jay Bilas named Balbay one of the top-two perimeter defenders in college basketball his junior year.

“Balbay puts the best pressure on the ball of anyone I have seen all season long,” Bilas said. “With his ball pressure, teams have a difficult time running offense against Texas, and Balbay has taken more than one quality point guard out of the game this season.”

Despite a successful career in burnt orange, he didn’t reach his goal.

“My goal was to get drafted,” Balbay said. “But that didn’t work out.”

So, where is he now? Currently, he is in the Turkish league for Anadolu Efes, his hometown team in Istanbul.

“It’s one of the best leagues in Europe — top-3,” Balbay said. “And Efes is one of the best clubs.”

After going undrafted, Efes bought Balbay’s rights and gave him a three-year contract.

In those three years, Balbay made a name for himself. He was named the best defender by the Turkish Basketball Federation and was the runner-up in the 2012 slam dunk contest. He even hit a game-winner with 0.4 seconds left in a Euroleague playoff game.

“There are games I actually score double figures,” Balbay said in reference to his low-scoring college days. “But I’m not the best scorer. I am one of the best defenders, though.”

With his success, he began to get some looks from the NBA summer league. The Philadelphia 76ers were in contact with Balbay and a few other teams were rumored to be trying to see him.

But, Balbay had just signed a two-year guaranteed contract with Efes, preventing him from trying out.

“[The contract] was a big deal,” Balbay said. “It’s my hometown team. In addition, they named me captain of the team this year, and that is a big deal.”

Balbay is three Turkish league games into his first season under the new contract and preparing for the first Euroleague game on Thursday.

But, he’s still just 25-years-old and his ultimate goal is not out of reach yet.

“I’ll try in two years,” Balbay said. “I guess I’m still young.”