The Longhorns took a break from their conference schedule on Saturday and hosted Ole Miss in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Here are five takeaways from Texas' 85-72 victory:
Roach continues shooting streak
Until a few weeks ago, junior guard Kerwin Roach II’s offensive specialty was scoring around the rim. He entered this season as a 30.3-percent 3-point shooter, but since returning from a hand injury, the junior has been lethal from range. In his return to the court against Texas Tech on Jan. 17, Roach drained multiple threes for just the second time in the season. He followed this performance up by exploding for a season-best of four threes on five attempts against Iowa State.
Roach has clearly gained confidence in his shot, and he converted on his first two threes in the early portion of the first half on Saturday against Ole Miss to boost the Longhorns’ offense. Roach now sits at a respectable 9-of-18 from deep in his last four games.
Bamba briefly leaves game with injury
Freshman center Mo Bamba quickly impacted the game with his rebounding. But during the early stages of the opening half, Bamba also left the court and headed to the locker room with a trainer. Bamba’s left thigh was evaluated during the time, per Texas.
He quickly returned to the hardwood and was inserted into the game with 9:52 left in the first half. Bamba played the remainder of the game without any struggle, dropping in a new career-high 25 points and hauling in 15 rebounds in just 28 minutes. Bamba’s shooting has improved as of late as he swished his only three of the day and knocked down 12-of-13 from the charity stripe.
Osetkowski’s offensive rebounding pays off
Dylan Osetkowski absolutely dominated from the low block on Saturday. The junior power forward finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Four of those rebounds occurred on the offensive end of the floor, and Osetkowski was easily able to get in position to grab boards as soon as a shot was launched.
Texas scored 14 second-chance points in the victory, and Osetkowski’s presence was a primary reason why the Longhorns were able to make the most out of their offensive possessions.
Texas struggles to stop post-hook, but adjusts
Although Bamba and Osetkowski dominated in the paint offensively, the Longhorns initially struggled with containing Ole Miss center Dominik Olejniczak. The 7-foot Polish big man dropped in 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half alone, often repeating the same move in the post.
His hook shot from down low was virtually unstoppable without a double-team, and it was a surprise Ole Miss didn’t use him more often. All but two of his points were in the first half, and the Rebels’ offense vanished during the second half when Olejniczak wasn’t frequently utilized. Olejniczak attempted just four field goals in the second half, none of which landed in the cylinder.
Longhorns continue to thrive at home
Big 12 play hasn’t been too kind to the Longhorns, as they entered Saturday with a conference record of 4–4. Texas (14–7) got four days off without traveling before the matchup with the SEC’s Ole Miss, and the Longhorns were able to coast to a 13-point victory over the Rebels.
The win marked Texas’ fourth consecutive home triumph, and head coach Shaka Smart’s team improved to 10–2 at the Frank Erwin Center this season. Although the Longhorns have consistently brought their A-game in Austin, this was their first double-digit win on their own hardwood since Dec. 16’s 75-60 final over Louisiana Tech.