The ball clanking off the rim, the referee’s whistle and the thump of bodies hitting the floor were the most notable noises that echoed throughout the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday.
A sloppy 76-55 win for the Longhorns over Lamar looked at times as if it were a pickup game at Gregory Gym. Missed shots, stupid fouls and off-target passes tarnished the 21-point win — head coach Rick Barnes’ 300th as a Longhorn.
But that didn’t concern Barnes much, as defense was the only thing worked on during the last two days of practice.
“You might think I’m crazy when I say this, but we are going to be OK offensively,” Barnes said.
He knows that because his biggest offensive weapon, Jordan Hamilton, can still score 16 points despite a five for 15 day from the field. While this may be considered a bad game for Hamilton, Barnes had nothing but praise for the sophomore.
“Tonight, he came out and did as well as he has since he has been here on the defensive end,” Barnes said.
Hamilton has been looking to improve on his defense, and over the past couple days he shined the most. His performance in practice was rewarded on Wednesday as he played the entire game.
“There were times when I got tired, but I’m just thankful for media timeouts,” Hamilton said.
The offense’s struggles against a zone defense continued as they were never able to put together any offensive rhythm. Despite having four players scoring in double figures, they missed layups and converted only five of 18 three-point attempts.
Cory Joseph was the Longhorns’ biggest offensive weapon, scoring 16 points and adding nine rebounds and four assists. Joseph had troubles at the earlier in the season with his shot, but as of late he has started making more, including connecting on three of six three-pointers on Wednesday.
“When they collapse, they get the perimeter guys open looks, so that’s how I’ve been able to get into a rhythm and knock them down,” Joseph said.
The Longhorns’ season-high 23 turnovers plagued them as bad passes were thrown out of bounds, good passes were mishandled, offensive fouls were committed and players were accidentally stepping out of bounds.
Luckily for Texas, the Cardinals suffered from the same problems, as they had multiple traveling violations in addition to the same troubles holding on to the ball.
Lamar was unable to capitalize on the Texas turnovers and could barely make a shot, hitting only 25 percent from the field and 11 percent for three.
“I think it’s a reflection on their defense,” Lamar head coach Steve Roccaforte said about his team’s poor shooting night.
Entering Wednesday’s game, the Cardinals averaged 96 points a game, but were unable to make many shots.
Lamar took an early 11-6 lead, but Texas followed it with a 14-2 run to obtain a lead that they would not lose. Another 14-2 run to open the second half secured the game for the Longhorns who will next face USC on Sunday.