Longhorns survive physical test against Grizzlies

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TULSA, Okla. — Cory Joseph looked like he had just got out of a 12-round title fight. In the locker room, bandages of all different shapes and sizes were out. Icepacks were near. And a trainer was tending to him.

After face planting on the ground late in the second half, the freshman guard suffered a cut above his upper lip, which is always covered by his thin, dark mustache and another one on his chin required stitches following Texas’ 85-81 win over Oakland.

The two newest scars to Joseph’s face are in addition to a cut that still sits below his right eye from last week’s loss to Kansas.

But he has never been better.

“As long as we win,” said Joseph, who finished with 11 points, “I could lose an arm.”

Another physical Texas game, against a team that Rick Barnes believed deserved a better seed, went in the Longhorns' favor.

“It was a physical game,” said Texas senior Gary Johnson, who was wearing a hot pad in the locker room and left the stadium with a pack of ice Saran-wrapped around his midsection. “(The referees) weren’t really calling nothing. That’s the way we like to play though.”

Texas went to the basket often against a smaller Oakland team. Joseph took the ball inside more instead of staying around the perimeter like he tends to do. All eight of Jordan Hamilton’s field goals came from inside the 3-point line. From the beginning of the game, Hamilton knew he was going to be able to take Oakland’s 6-foot-4 Travis Bader or 6-foot-5 Drew Valentine.

“I said to coach (Barnes), ‘put me on the block, I don’t want to be on the wing,’” Hamilton said.

Hamilton connected on eight of his 14 field goals for 19 points in addition to 10 rebounds. Like Joseph, Hamilton ended up with a little blood on his shorts, from a small cut on his right arm. His injury was but a scratch compared to Joseph’s.

“I feel kind of bad for (Joseph),” Hamilton said. “But if he wants to take hits and that’s what we have to do to win, he can keep taking it.”

Tristan Thompson, who was in charge of banging it out in the post against Oakland’s star Keith Benson, came out of the game clean.

“Usually I’m the one with all the blood,” said Thompson who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.

Though Joseph is willing to add more cuts and bruises to his face, Thompson won’t let it happen.

“I would take a shot for him,” Thompson said. “That’s my brother. I’ll take a shot for him anytime.”