Longhorns run past UAB, move above .500

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After a one-game suspension, sophomore guard Kerwin Roach Jr. made his return to the Longhorns in Monday’s contest against Louisiana-Monroe. He finished with 11 points.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns have been hampered by inconsistent play all season. But the team finally made things look easy Wednesday night.

Texas (6–5) responded from a tough loss to Arkansas by blowing out the University of Alabama-Birmingham 96-60 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Head coach Shaka Smart pulled a page from his old VCU playbook and brought pressure early and often. Texas alternated between the full-court and half-court press throughout the first half, taking the Blazers (6–6) out of their element.

The Longhorns forced eight turnovers in the first half, off of which they scored 16 points. When UAB was able to get into its half-court offense, the Texas defense was stifling, limiting the Blazers to a paltry 36 percent shooting clip in the half.

The Longhorns rode their lockdown defense to a 43-27 lead at the break. With a big lead, Smart relied less on the press in the second half. Still, Texas finished the game with 18 forced turnovers and held UAB to only 42 percent shooting.

Sophomore guard Kerwin Roach was a big part of the Longhorn's defensive success. He wreaked havoc all night, finishing with a career-high six steals.

Offensively, the Longhorns relied heavily on two of their star freshmen, forward Jarrett Allen and guard Andrew Jones. The tandem scored the team's first 13 points.

And even with a 16-point lead, the duo kept their foot on the gas pedal to start the second half. Allen scored the period's first points with an emphatic dunk. A possession later, Jones nailed a three to put the burnt orange up by 21.

Both players finished the contest with 16 points. Jones was on fire from deep, finishing the game 4-7 from behind the 3-point line.

Jones's hot shooting was contagious. The Longhorns drained a season-high 12 3-pointers, breaking out of a season long slump from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Tevin Mack, who finished with a game-high 18 points, knocked down three threes of his own. Four other players also hit threes for Texas.

The Longhorns now have almost a week off before they play Kent State Tuesday at the Erwin Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.