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No. 12 Texas has plenty to prove vs. Houston Christian

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Texas Longhorns' Timmy Allen salutes the student section after scoring during the game against UTEP Miners Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at the Moody Center in Austin.

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Credit: Briana Sanchez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

If every game is a step toward a goal of being your best, No. 12 Texas has plenty to prove when it hosts Houston Christian on Thursday in Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns (1-0) revealed plenty about their makeup in a 72-57 season-opening win over UTEP at home on Monday, but the showing was not without its flaws. Texas won with defense, dynamic shooting and the ability to increase its intensity with the flip of a switch.

Texas showed similar traits last year in its first campaign under coach Chris Beard.

Texas sputtered early but used its defense to establish a 13-point lead at halftime. After the Miners pulled to within eight points deep in the second half, Texas dispelled any notion of a comeback by reeling off a 15-3 spurt keyed by returner Marcus Carr and newcomer Sir’Jabari Rice.

Tyrese Hunter, a transfer from Iowa State, led the Longhorns with 18 points while Rice, a transfer from New Mexico State, added 14 points. Carr scored eight of his 12 points from the free-throw line and Dylan Disu, another holdover from last season, hit for 10 points for Texas.

“We got one of those teams,” Beard said. “That’s the deal at Texas. That’s why we took the job, to build a consistent program. Not one team, not one year, not one season. Last year was a great foundation. We’ve got a chance. We like our team. We’ve got the balance between veterans and young guys. We’ve got a long ways to go.”

Texas held UTEP to just 40.4 percent shooting from the floor and forced 19 turnovers that led to 21 points for the Longhorns. Texas also hit 54.8 percent of its field goals and scored 16 fast-break points while limiting the Miners to just one point in transition.

“We beat a good team (Monday),” Beard added. “I didn’t think this was the normal kind of ‘first game’ that we’re all used to. A lot of respect for UTEP.”

The Huskies (0-1) head to Austin off a 77-66 loss at Florida International in Miami on Monday. Houston Christian’s Brycen Long canned a program-record nine 3-pointers and racked up a career-high 31 points in the defeat, which came after the Huskies were up by nine points at the half and 54-46 with 14:14 remaining in the second half.

But Houston Christian surrendered the lead via a 12-0 FIU run and then a 7-2 surge that doomed their chances of winning their opener. Sam Hofman recorded 10 rebounds in the game to lead the Huskies, who shot just 39.1 percent from the floor despite making 12 of their 23 shots from beyond the arc.

Houston Christian, which was formerly Houston Baptist, was picked to finish in eighth place in the 10-team Southland Conference preseason poll.

“We have a good mix of players returning and adding in some younger players and some transfers,” Huskies coach Ron Cottrell said. “Our guys have been working hard.”

Texas and Houston Christian have played twice, with the Longhorns winning both games — including a 92-48 victory last season in Austin.

–Field Level Media