Continued improvement will be on the agenda when No. 16 Texas hosts Alabama State on Wednesday afternoon in Austin, Texas, in one of the Longhorns’ final tune-ups before the Big 12 gauntlet.
The Longhorns are happy just to play the game. Texas was scheduled to square off with former Southwest Conference rival Rice on Wednesday, but it was announced on Monday that the Owls were pausing activity due to COVID-19 issues.
So, Texas officials scrambled and landed Alabama State.
Texas (8-2) heads home after a gritty 60-53 win over Stanford in the Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge on Sunday in Las Vegas. Andrew Jones scored 13 points to lead the Longhorns, with Timmy Allen and Dylan Disu adding 11 points each.
The Longhorns were up by just five points nearly five minutes into the second half before showcasing their extreme balance in a decisive 13-0 run. Six players scored in that stretch, and Texas rode that spurt and its defense (which forced 22 Stanford turnovers) to capture its second straight victory.
“(In a game) where maybe we didn’t shoot it well, we got a lot of good things done defensively,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “Our bench had great scoring. … We manufactured some points off of offensive rebounding, which is needed for us.”
After allowing Stanford to grab eight offensive rebounds in the first 12:01 of the contest, the Longhorns surrendered just two over the final 27:59. Texas finished the first half on a 21-10 run and led 34-27 at halftime.
“A big turning point for us was closing out the first half really strong,” Allen said. “There was a good opportunity for us to create a lead, and we did that. Then just going into the second half with the mindset of just dominating the paint. We knew a lot of their points in the first half came from second-chance points.”
Alabama State had a sudden availability when its game scheduled for Tuesday against Memphis was canceled because of COVID in the Tigers’ program. Alabama State also had its game at UCLA scheduled for Dec. 15 postponed because of the pandemic.
The Hornets (1-9) haven’t played since losing to Pepperdine on the road 79-62 on Dec. 11. Their only official victory of the year (not counting an exhibition game) was an 80-74 home win in overtime against North Carolina Central.
Coach Mo Williams’ squad has already lost to Iowa State (68-60) and in blowout fashion to Iowa, Vanderbilt and Dayton. The Hornets are scheduled to play at Texas Tech on Dec. 28.
“The more we can be consistent running the offense and sticking to the plan, the more we can put more minutes together,” Williams said after the loss to Pepperdine. “We can put 20 minutes together and not have those lulls in there, but we aren’t quite there yet. I told the guys that we can get better with this type of effort and this type of showing into the next game.”
Alabama State’s sudden rerouting to Austin will bring to town a familiar face, Gerald Liddell. The junior forward transferred from Texas to Alabama State before this season and is the Hornets’ leading scorer at 10.5 points per game, the only player scoring in double digits for the team.
–Field Level Media