Jones returns as Texas tops Eastern Illinois 71-59
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Andrew Jones, missing from the Texas lineup since he was diagnosed with leukemia in January, made his long-anticipated return on Tuesday night.
Jones, a junior guard, received a standing ovation when he entered the game in the second half. He produced a point, a rebound, a steal and an assist in nine minutes as the Longhorns defeated Eastern Illinois 71-59 in the season opener.
How much Jones gets to play this season is uncertain. He will leave the team in December to undergo further treatments.
Sophomore Matt Coleman had 13 points and seven assists for the Longhorns, while freshman Jaxson Hayes scored 12.
Rade Kukobat led Eastern Illinois with 12 points and Mack Smith scored 11.
Texas struggled for most of the first half but made a 15-0 push toward the end to take a 10-point lead at the break.
Elijah Mitrou-Long had a hand in the first 10 of those points, with two driving layups, a 3-point basket and an assist.
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers, picked to finish seventh in the 12-team Ohio Valley Conference by the league’s coaches and sports information directors, need time to coalesce. They have four new starters, all junior college transfers. The 6-foot-9 Kukobat is one of them. Another, 6-foot-5 forward JaQualis Matlock, showed some promise in the first half, scoring eight points while working inside against the taller Longhorns. He missed with his only shot attempt in the second half.
Texas: The Longhorns won’t provide a full glimpse of themselves until they face Arkansas on Friday. Senior guard Kerwin Roach II missed the opener while serving a one-game suspension for a violation of unspecified team rules several months ago. Roach averaged 12.3 points a game last season, fourth best on the team, while leading the Longhorns with 47 steals. The Longhorns hit 32 percent of their 3-pointers against Eastern Illinois, the same accuracy that ranked last in the Big 12 last season.
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers are at IUPUI on Saturday. Eastern Illinois defeated IUPUI 80-79 last season at home in Charleston, Ill. Eastern’s Terrell Lewis, now a senior, made two free throws with six seconds left.
Texas: The Longhorns face Arkansas on Friday in the Armed Forces Classic at Fort Bliss in El Paso. The Longhorns last played the Razorbacks in December, 2016, with Arkansas winning 77-74 in Houston.
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