Febres 3-pointers spark Texas over The Citadel 97-69
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — For 20 minutes, Texas shooters shook their heads or clapped their hands in frustration after shots bounced off the rim to the left and right, short and long.
Jase Febres changed all that with four easy strokes from around the arc, and the Longhorns were off and running to an easy 97-69 win over The Citadel with a barrage of 10 3-pointers in the second half Friday night.
Texas was just 2 of 20 from long range in the first half before Febres opened the second with a pair of identical shots from the left corner, then made two more. That seemed to unleash the tension from Longhorns shooters who kept firing away and kept ripping through the net.
“I’m a pretty good shooter,” Febres said. “I’m getting good, open looks.”
Texas got a lot of them early but just couldn’t get shots to fall in another game the Longhorns struggled to find any offensive rhythm from the start.
Texas led 42-30 at halftime but didn’t look comfortable getting there despite having considerable size and speed advantages over the Bulldogs. After Febres’ first two baskets, two Citadel turnovers led to easy dunks by Kerwin Roach II and Dylan Osetkowski and Texas cruised from there.
Texas coach Shaka Smart shrugged off the first-half shooting woes.
“I think we won the game in the first half with the way we defended,” Smart said. “When you come into the locker room after a half like that, it’s easy to be bummed out ... But I thought our guys stayed very focused on what we had to do.”
Febres finished with 12 points. Osetkowski had his second straight double-double for Texas (4-0) with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Roach also scored 15 to become the 37th Longhorn to surpass 1,000 in a career. The senior has 1,005.
“I was getting frustrated out there,” Roach said. “You’ve got to keep taking good looks. In practice they go in.”
Lew Stallworth scored 21 for The Citadel (2-2).
The Citadel: The Bulldogs launched 99 3-pointers in their two previous games against Division II opponents and made 41, but didn’t get nearly the same kind of room to shoot against Texas. And even when they did, making them was harder to do away from their home court. The Bulldogs needed the long-range shooting to keep up with the bigger Longhorns, and simply didn’t get enough of it.
“They did an awesome job locking in on our shooters,” Bulldogs coach Duggar Baucom said. “Competition was a little bit different tonight.”
Texas: The Longhorns have padded their schedule with three easy wins and an overtime struggle against Arkansas. Their size advantage inside helped them overcome bad 3-point shooting early when Texas post players started gobbling rebounds and getting dunks and layups. That won’t be nearly so easy going forward, especially in the Big 12.
Texas got another good spark from Mount St. Mary’s transfer junior guard Eli Mitrou-Long. The game was tied 16-16 before Mitrou-Long made a 3-pointer, finished a fast break with a nifty pass fake and layup, then forced a turnover that led to another basket in a 10-0 Texas run over a two-minute stretch.
“A great term for him is catalyst,” Smart said. “That’s what we need him to be. Eli’s a guy who is very, very emotional. When he can channel that the right way, he can be huge for us.”
KEEPING IT CLEAN
Texas had another excellent game protecting the ball with just seven turnovers. The Longhorns had just one in the first half. The Longhorns had 30 in the first two games and 16 in the last two.
The Citadel: Plays at James Madison on Tuesday
Texas: Takes a big step up in competition against No. 7 North Carolina in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving.