AUSTIN (KXAN) — The No. 11 Texas Longhorns gave the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs a taste of what Big 12 Conference basketball could be like for them Wednesday at Moody Center.
Texas shot 51.5% from the field and drained 13 three-pointers to run away with a 93-74 win over the Bulldogs to move to 3-0 so far.
“We’ve got good shooters, we work really hard at it,” Longhorns head coach Chris Beard said. “The best shooters that have ever played this game miss half their shots, and I thought tonight we played disciplined. We had five guys in double figures and two more around 8 or 9. That’s the balance we’re looking for.”
Gonzaga, in Spokane, Washington along the border with the Idaho panhandle, has reportedly been in talks with Big 12 officials about becoming members of the conference, and it certainly raised some eyebrows around the country as the Bulldogs dominate the mid-major West Coast Conference year-in and year-out. Never at a loss for words, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said Gonzaga would be in for an “awakening,” if they joined the conference.
If Wednesday night was any indication, they’ll have to get better at defending the three-point line. Texas let it fly from long range and drained 13 of 29 three-point shots with Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter doing most of the damage. Carr shot 4-for-9 and Hunter made 5 of 8 from long range, most coming in the middle of Texas runs that sent the fans into a near-deafening frenzy.
Carr said after last year’s 86-74 loss to the Bulldogs on the road that this was certainly “a revenge game.”
“It’s always been in the back of our minds since then, we definitely didn’t forget it,” Carr said. “We’ve seen that film more than a few times after that night. We went there and didn’t play our best, so we owed them one.”
Hunter finished with a career-high 26 points and Carr had 16 points.
Gonzaga’s 6-foot-10 forward Drew Timme, who torched the Longhorns for 37 points in 15 of 19 shooting last year in Spokane, had 18 points and nine rebounds but also had five turnovers. Disu, Brock Cunningham, Christian Bishop and Timmy Allen held the national player of the year candidate to just 10 shots. Timme didn’t score a field goal in the second half until the 12:28 mark.
“We made it hard on him,” Beard said. “He’s a dynamic player, he had 18 and nine and we’re OK with that. That’s how good he is. He’s a guy that can get 30 points.”
For the Longhorns, Disu chipped in 12 points in just 13 minutes due to foul trouble. He shot 5 –for-7 from the field including 2-for-3 from three-point range. Disu’s first long-range bucket was the first points of the game for either team about 1:30 in. He drilled another three-pointer early in the second half to stretch the Longhorns’ lead to 15.
“How about Disu to start the game,” Beard said. “He gets a good look, misses it, no problem. Second one, he’s confident and he sticks it.”
Defensively it seemed like Texas was always around the ball with active hands. Although they were outrebounded 35-31, Texas forced 20 Gonzaga turnovers, turning them into 27 points, and the Longhorns had eight steals. Seven players had at least one steal for the Longhorns with Bishop notching two.
Jabari Rice had 11 points off the bench for Texas and Bishop had nine. Texas’ bench outscored Gonzaga’s 29-16 and the Longhorns held a 10-point advantage in fastbreak points 12-2.
Dillon Mitchell’s eight points came on four dunks, one in the first half and then three highlight-reel slams in the second half. He caught an alley-oop from Rice with 3:13 left and stuffed it with two hands, and then brought the crowd to life with a vicious one-handed putback jam after Carr missed a three-point attempt with 2:20 left.
Texas (3-0) travels to the Rio Grande Valley next week to take on Northern Arizona in the Leon Black Classic at UTRGV in Edinburg. Gonzaga (2-1) takes on No. 4 Kentucky on Sunday at Spokane Arena.