No. 15 Men's Basketball rolls past Texas State
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas finally got to feel what it's like to win again.
Ranked No. 2 two weeks ago, the Longhorns were soundly beaten by No. 1 Duke in New Jersey and then lost to No. 23 Tennessee at home.
Seventeen days after their last victory -- Dec. 5 at Rice -- the Longhorns finally turned things around behind LaMarcus Aldridge's 21 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in posting an easy 85-49 victory over Texas State on Thursday night.
P.J. Tucker scored 17 points and Daniel Gibson added 15 for the 15th-ranked Longhorns (9-2) in their third win of the season over a Southland Conference opponent.
"It was good," Aldridge said after his eighth double-double of the season. "We just went back to the way we play, which was fast-breaking and giving guys freedom."
Jeremy Johnson scored 20 points for Texas State (1-8), which opened the season with seven straight losses and doesn't have a player averaging more than nine points.
Texas was down to seven players because of injuries and the midseason transfer of Dion Dowell. Starting forward Brad Buckman and key reserve forward Mike Williams did not play.
Even so, the Longhorns got off to a quick start.
Freshman A.J. Abrams got his first start at point guard, moving Gibson to shooting guard. Gibson, who suffered a concussion against Tennessee and left that game in the first half, hit 3-pointers on his first two shots. Kenton Paulino followed with another 3 in an 11-0 run to open the game.
"I came in feeling good. I wasn't going to worry about getting hit," Gibson said. "I got hit a couple times, I got an elbow to the head."
Things wouldn't stay so smooth. Gibson missed his next seven shots, six from 3-point range, and the Longhorns still struggled to get the ball through Texas State's zone to Aldridge, who at 6-foot-10 created a monumental mismatch for the Bobcats. Although Texas built the lead as high as 35-15 in the first half, the Longhorns shot just 38 percent and Aldridge took just three shots in the half.
"That's the ultimate respect for LaMarcus, teams packing down in a zone," said Abrams, who had five assists. "Hitting from outside really opens things up. We always want to get him the ball."
Texas opened the second half with a 15-2 run that put it way out of reach.
Gibson hit a 3 from the top of the arc and Paulino followed with another. Tucker finished a fast break with a reverse layup, then converted a three-point play with a layup over three defenders that made it 52-24 with 15 minutes left.
Aldridge scored 15 points in the second half, going 7of-9 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
"Their size took a toll on us," Texas State coach Dennis Nutt said. "We have a young and inexperienced team. We didn't keep our composure."
Texas managed to limit the turnovers that plagued the Longhorns against Duke and Tennessee, committing just seven Thursday night after giving the ball away 38 times the previous two games.
Defensively, Texas held the Bobcats to 28 percent shooting and allowed the fewest points this season after giving up at least 95 in both of the losses.
"There were a lot of good things. We were really swarming and helping each other," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "I liked most of all we had seven turnovers. ... I thought we looked like a team."
Aldridge said the Longhorns view the ugly losses as live-and-learn situations that will make them better.
"We can learn more from it now than learn from it in March," Aldridge said. "I'd rather lose now than later."
The Bobcats didn't expect to win but know they likely won't face anyone like Texas the rest of the season.
"Hopefully it means we're preparing for the Southland Conference," Nutt said. "Ultimately that's what we're getting ready for."