AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—Sure it’s the cupcake part of the season. Even so, it’s not every year Texas starts 6-0.
And you have to go way back in the record book to find a Longhorns team winning by the big margins this one does.
It’s what comes next that will truly test No. 8 Texas.
Damion James scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and the Longhorns ran their record to 6-0 for only the second time in coach Rick Barnes’ 10 seasons with a 98-61 win over Texas Southern on Wednesday night.
As for getting to 7-0? Now THAT would be impressive. The Longhorns travel to California to play No. 2 UCLA on Sunday.
“We’re going to find out Sunday night a lot about our basketball team,” Barnes said. “What I’ve seen up to this point, I think (the Bruins) are the best team in college basketball.”
The Longhorns have looked pretty good themselves with a running, shooting offensive attack. Texas has won its first six games by at least 15 points, the first time the Longhorns have done that since 1915-16.
Texas started the 2005-06 season 8-0. That team shared the Big 12 title and advanced to the regional final of the NCAA tournament. The most impressive win so far this season was last weekend’s neutral court win over No. 11 Tennessee in New Jersey.
Texas Southern (1-5) was a homecourt stopover before the trip to California and the Longhorns played the first half like they were thinking about the Bruins, taking a seven-point lead into halftime.
“We take it one game at a time. After we beat Tennessee, of course we have UCLA, but we still had TSU tonight,” James said.
The Longhorns shot 64 percent against the Volunteers but fell far off that pace back in Austin. Shooting guard A.J. Abrams was 2-for-8 in the first half, including 1-for-7 on 3-pointers, his specialty.
Texas Southern kept it close with seven 3-pointers in the first half. Spotty Texas defense left shooters wide open on several occasions and the Tigers got good bounces on a couple of others that just beat the shot clock.
“We don’t have an inside game,” Texas Southern coach Robert Moreland said. “That’s what we were hoping to do, take some 3-pointers because we weren’t going to be able to get a whole lot inside.”
Texas outscored TSU 46-10 in the paint.
The Longhorns stretched an early lead to 32-20 with a 14-2 run keyed by a 3-pointer from Abrams and consecutive baskets by Justin Mason. But the Tigers closed the half with consecutive 3-pointers by Kevin Abanobi, Raymond Robinson and Anthony Ike to pull within 39-32.
“They were putting it on us and that kind of surprised us a little bit,” Mason said. “They were hitting a lot of shots and really catching us off guard. Once they cut the lead to single digits, we had to really pick it up.”
Abanobi swished his fourth 3-pointer to start the second half and quickly cut the Texas lead to four. But that was about it for the Tigers.
D.J Augustin answered Abanobi’s basket with a 3 and Mason hit two free throws after a steal and Texas Southern’s Matt Miller was whistled for an intentional foul. Abrams and Augustin hit layups and the nine-point swing put the Longhorns ahead 48-35.
The game quickly turned into a rout. Texas led 60-45 when James and Mason combined for 10 straight points to blow it wide open, stretching the lead to 70-45 with just under 10 minutes left.
Augustin finished with 20 points for the Longhorns, who turned 24 turnovers by the Tigers into 34 points.
Abanobi and Ike both scored 15 points for Texas Southern.