While the Longhorn offense sputtered without its top two point guards at times, freshman forward Myles Turner filled the void.
After a solid first half, which saw him put up 11 points and six rebounds, Turner dominated the second half for Texas with a perfect night from behind the arc and posted his first career double-double, as the Longhorns defeated Saint Francis, 78-46,
“It felt great to gain some confidence going into tougher competition,” Turner said. “To play well against a solid team, that was great.”
The No. 7 Longhorns (5-0) started the night behind the eight ball. With sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor out indefinitely with a broken wrist, Texas got more bad news when junior guard Javan Felix was held out of the starting lineup as he nursed a left foot injury.
Even with sophomore guard Kendal Yancy inserted as a starter for the first time in his career, the Longhorn offense got off to a solid start behind junior center Cameron Ridley, who had the first two buckets for Texas and seven of the team’s first 12 points.
But after taking a 27-16 lead with 7 minutes left in the first half, the Longhorn offense ran into trouble, failing to score on six of seven possessions. During that time, Texas turned the ball over three times and allowed the Red Flyers (2-3) to cut the deficit to eight, 29-21.
Head coach Rick Barnes said it was the six turnovers in the first half that bothered him the most.
“We talk about valuing the ball and being tough with the ball and we just throw it away because we’re out there like no one’s defending,” Barnes said.
In the second half, however, the Longhorn offense again found its way. Texas opened up a 19-point lead in the first six minutes of the half, before Turner caught fire.
With Ridley on the bench for the majority of the second half, the highly touted freshman made his presence known on both ends of the floor.
On the offensive end, Turner had a stretch where he scored seven of the Longhorn’s nine points to help open up the lead. On the other end, Turner finished the night with nine defensive rebounds and three blocks, two of which led to points for Texas.
Turner said he needed that game to boost his confidence, considering the touch schedule ahead.
“In practice I feel like I’ve been performing well and to be able to come out here and execute in the game, it’s great,” Turner said.
The Texas bigs had a strong night as well, with Ridley finishing with 16 points and junior forward Connor Lammert scoring 11 more. Yancy also finished in double-digits, with 12 points.
The Longhorns have the rest of the week off before travelling to play Connecticut in a tough road contest Sunday.