Lewis continues to provide scoring punch for Men's Basketball
Dec. 23, 2012
Elissa Schneiderman, Texas Media Relations
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Sophomore guard Julien Lewis paced the Longhorns with a team-high 16 points during UT's 67-56 loss at No. 20/19 Michigan State on Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It marked the third time that Lewis, who converted 6-of-12 field goals (including 2-of-2 from three-point range) and added four rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes, had led the team in scoring this season.
"He's getting better and better," head coach Rick Barnes said of Lewis. "He's starting to figure it out more and more."
Lewis, who ranks second on the team in scoring (12.0 ppg), has developed into a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat.
"You have to give Lewis credit," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said following the game. "I thought we checked him as well as we could, and he just made shots and made plays."
Barnes also pointed to Lewis' defensive contributions. UT's coach said that his staff asks a lot of Lewis defensively, and he's been able to meet their expectations. Lewis also ranks second on the squad in steals (15) while adding 3.4 rebounds per contest.
"More (often) than not, Julien is always trying to do his job, whatever that may be," Barnes said.
Until recently, however, Lewis has not been a reliable double-digit scorer.
Lewis showed potential at times during his freshman season, posting 18 points in his first collegiate game against Boston University. He later added 19 points against Texas State last year. But Lewis lacked the consistency of a veteran.
For Lewis, his breakout performance came during the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. He averaged 14.0 ppg while converting 16-of-28 (.571) field goals, including 6-of-11 (.545) threes, in 26.7 minutes per contest during UT's three outings in Maui.
When he returned to the mainland, Lewis picked up where he left off. He has reached double figures in eight of his last 10 contests entering the Christmas break.
In Texas' 85-67 home victory against No. 23/19 North Carolina last Wednesday (Dec. 19), Lewis was a major contributor. He registered 16 points, three steals and three rebounds.
"I have said all along that with his speed and quickness, he can be a terrific scorer," Barnes said. "He still has to continue to learn how to play consistently. We're continuing trying to develop skills. He's a really good catch-and-shoot or one dribble guy, which is what he needs to be. We want to help him play more off the dribble."
With experience has come composure for Lewis, which is especially important as the Horns transition into Big 12 Conference play next month.
Teammate and fellow sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan said that Lewis' greatest asset to the UT squad is his aggressiveness.
"He never backs down from big shots," McClellan said. "He's not afraid to take big shots, and he always rises up to the challenge. He means a lot (to this team), defensively and offensively. We've got to have him on the court most of the time."
Lewis and the Longhorns return to the court when they host Rice on Saturday, Dec. 29. Tip is set for 1 p.m. Central at the Frank Erwin Center, and the game will be televised by Longhorn Network.