All the usual stars showed up for Texas on Monday night — Jordan Hamilton scored a game-high 20 points, Tristan Thompson added 10 points and five boards and Cory Joseph scored 11 — but for the Longhorns to win by 20, it took some atypical contributions from the team’s role players.
Matt Hill, Jai Lucas, J’Covan Brown and Alexis Wangmene all logged significant minutes as other players sat with foul trouble.
“We always trust our bench,” said starting guard Dogus Balbay. “Tonight was one of those nights, you know, they came in and changed the game.”
Hill was first off the bench in both halves. His first touch of the ball was a putback minutes into the game that he immediately followed up with a defensive rebound on the other end.
“What Matt Hill does doesn’t really show up on the stat sheet,” Hamilton said. “He’s a great defender, and he’s a force inside.”
Hill and fellow reserve forward Wangmene helped defend A&M’s David Loubeau, Ray Turner and Keith Davis inside after starters Thompson and Gary Johnson were pulled for accumulating early fouls.
“Matt Hill came in and rebounded his tail off,” Thompson said. “He was really impressive inside and gave their big men a tough time.”
Hill also converted two field goals, including a mid-range jumper, an unusual shot for the 6-foot-10 post player.
“When he hit the little jump shot in the lane,” said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. “It was kind of their night.”
The senior hadn’t played much in recent games — just 11 minutes against Missouri on Saturday and three versus Oklahoma State on Jan. 26. But head coach Rick Barnes turned to him for relief and leadership on Monday and the senior responded with a season-high eight rebounds.
“He’s one of those guys on the offensive end that just keeps things gong,” Barnes said about Hill. “But he came up with some big rebounds on the defensive end.”
Lucas and Brown effectively ran the point when Balbay was out. Brown played 24 minutes, the most he’s played since a Jan. 22 win at Kansas, and scored eight points.
Overall, the Texas reserves outscored their Aggie counterparts 19-10.
“There wasn’t any drop off tonight,” Turgeon said. “I thought Wangmene played well and [Matt] Hill really played well.”
Brown, Lucas and Wangmene all scored during a crucial 14-0 run by Texas halfway through the first period while three starters sat with foul trouble.
The scoring streak helped Texas build a 25-point halftime lead, its largest of the season.