AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—Texas freshman Avery Bradley had his third straight impressive game for the second-ranked Longhorns.
Bradley scored a season-high 18 points and had five assists to lead Texas to an overpowering 104-42 victory over Texas-Pan American on Tuesday night.
“My comfort level is definitely getting better,” Bradley said. “I came out the second half and tried to let the defensive end get my offensive game going, and it did.”
Bradley, who averaged 16 points on 13-of-26 shooting in the last two games, led the Longhorns (9-0) offensively, going 8 of 15 from the field while involving others with his timely passing.
Jordan Hamilton had 15 points for Texas, while Dexter Pittman controlled the low post with 14 points and seven rebounds, Gary Johnson added 12 points and Justin Mason had 10.
“We’re trying to build habits, and that’s what you’re searching for this time of year,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said of Bradley. “I think he came out and he wasn’t as aggressive as he has been, but when we picked it up defensively he really came along.”
Using the full-court trap, the Longhorns pressured Texas Pan-American into 21 turnovers in the game. Texas shot 53.3 percent (40 of 75) and was 8 of 20 on 3s.
The Longhorns are hoping to see Bradley and fellow freshman Hamilton keep up the production.
“They are playing fearless right now, and I think they have the butterflies out of them,” Pittman said. “They are playing like men.”
Texas broke from a 45-19 halftime lead by going on a 39-13 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Bradley, who reached double figures for the sixth time this season, scored 12 points in the run.
Luis Valera had 10 points for the Broncs (1-10), who finished 15 of 63 (23.8 percent) from the field, including 3 of 22 from 3-point range.
The Longhorns used a 17-7 run to take a 21-11 lead early in the first half. Hamilton hit two 3-pointers during the run, and Dogus Balbay added a 3 from the wing. Balbay finished with eight points, five rebounds and nine assists.
“I’ve gotten a chance to get a good feel of their program the last five years, and I think they are terrific and by the end of the year I think they’ll be marvelous,” Texas Pan-American coach Ryan Marks said. “I’m not sure that this isn’t the best Texas team I’ve seen.”
Marks coached at St. Edwards, a private university in Austin located about 5 miles south of the Texas campus.
The Longhorns outrebounded Texas-Pan American 34-13 in the first half. Pittman and Damion James combined for 16 rebounds and helped the Longhorns score 46 points in the paint. Texas closed the first half on a 24-8 run and held the Broncs to 6-of-30 shooting. It was the ninth-largest margin of victory in Longhorn history, and third-largest at the Erwin Center.
The Longhorns will play No. 10 North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, on Saturday. For most of the players, this is the game they have been waiting for.
“This is a game I’ve dreamed of playing in since I was a little kid, and we’ll treat this like the national championship,” Bradley said.
Added Pittman, “We’re playing against the best of the best, we’ll get a sense of where we’re at as a team. We’ll treat this like the national championship.”