Texas is off to its best start in more than 25 years, but coach Rick Barnes isn’t satisfied.
After the fourth-ranked Longhorns overcame defensive struggles to improve to 10-0, Barnes will look for a more complete effort when his team hosts Oral Roberts on Tuesday.
The Longhorns put on another strong offensive display Saturday, beating Texas State 96-81 to improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1981-82, when they won their first 14 games. Texas ranks 13th in the nation in scoring with 85.5 points per game and seventh in field-goal percentage at 51.9.
The Longhorns’ defense, however, struggled to stop Texas State’s drive-and-kick offense. The Bobcats penetrated for easy layups, or drew the defense and passed outside for wide-open 3-pointers as they became the second team to surpass 80 points against the Longhorns this season.
“It’s the defense where we just weren’t solid. Some guys didn’t do the job they needed to do,” said Barnes, who stuck with man-to-man defense to see if his team could step up to the challenge. “I told them that this is what we need. I just don’t think they handled it very well. I don’t think we got better, and that’s what disappointed me.”
Texas point guard D.J. Augustin got the message.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Augustin was one of three Texas players with at least 20 points on Saturday, finishing with 24 and adding five assists and four rebounds. A.J. Abrams - the Longhorns’ other backcourt starter - added 20, and Connor Atchley scored a career-high 26.
“D.J. and A.J. gave me some good looks so I just wanted to give them some assists,” said the 6-foot-10 Atchley, who was 9-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. “I am getting more comfortable on the court and practicing every day to get better.”
Atchley is shooting 63.3 percent overall and 61.5 percent (16-for-26) from beyond the arc this season.
“Connor keeps getting better everyday,” Augustin said. “He’s working hard in practice, he has a lot of confidence right now and that is what we need. He is knocking down shots and making big stops on defense. He’s done everything for us, he’s playing great and he just keeps getting better.”
Atchley will look to continue his emergence against Oral Roberts (6-3), which has won five of its last six games.
The Golden Eagles shot 52.7 percent from the field in their 80-51 victory over South Dakota State on Dec. 8, giving coach Scott Sutton his 150th victory in nine seasons with the team.
Senior Shawn King scored 17 points to lead four Oral Roberts players in double figures. The 6-foot-10 center added seven rebounds and four blocked shots in just 19 minutes - his third consecutive game with four blocks.
After losing its first two meetings with Oral Roberts, Texas has won the last eight games in the series. These teams haven’t faced each other since the Longhorns’ 87-77 win on Dec. 2, 1998 - Barnes’ first victory as head coach at Texas.