No. 4 seed Texas knocked off No. 13 seed Oakland 85-81 on Friday afternoon in their opening round game in Tulsa, but the final score doesn’t quite give you a sense of how well the Longhorns played.
Oakland is a very good basketball team, especially on the offensive end of the floor. They have an NBA caliber center in Keith Benson and a high-scoring, dynamic point guard in Reggie Hamilton. There is a reason they ranked 15th in the country in offensive efficiency coming into this game.
And for the majority of this game, Texas was in pretty firm control. They opened up a 46-38 lead at the half, and pushed that lead to 17 points midway through the second half. Tristan Thompson held Benson to 15 points on 6-15 shooting and while Hamilton scored 25 points, 11 of those came in the final six minutes when the Grizzlies made a desperate rally to get the final to four points.
In fact, Thompson outplayed Benson in all aspects of the game. The freshman finished with 17 points, 10 boards, and seven blocks.
Perhaps more importantly, Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown both found a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor. Hamilton finished with 19 points (on 8-17 shooting) and 11 boards while Brown had a team-high 21 points. When those two provide efficient scoring on the perimeter is when the Longhorns are the most dangerous.
This was not the best performance we’ve seen from Texas this season.
But it also wasn’t as poor as the final might indicate.
Oakland is a very good basketball team, and this game wasn’t really in doubt during the second half.
That’s a good sign for the Longhorns.