The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: LSN. Home Record: Sam Houston St. 2-0, Texas 2-0. Away Record: Sam Houston St. 0-0, Texas 0-0. Neutral Record: Sam Houston St. 0-0, Texas 1-1. Conference Record: Sam Houston St. 0-0, Texas 909. Series Record: Texas leads, 11-2.
Coming off a strong showing in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, the 20th-ranked Texas Longhorns return home to play host to instate foe Sam Houston State this evening.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns almost took home the tournament title in New York City last week, knocking off then 13th-ranked Illinois (90-84 OT) in the semifinals and then narrowly losing to fifth-ranked Pittsburgh (68-66) in the championship game. The loss to the Panthers was the first on the year for Texas, which jumped into the top-25 nevertheless. The team will try once again to help Barnes earn his 500th career victory.
Sam Houston State has yet to taste defeat on the young season, having made light work of both Mary Hardin-Baylor (72-47) and Northwestern Oklahoma State (90-68). Needless to say, Texas represents a huge leap in competition for the BearKats.
This is the 14th meeting in this series, with Texas winning 11 of the previous 13 matchups, including a 122-71 rout in the last meeting in 2003.
The BearKats shot over 50 percent from the floor in both the first and second half and finished at 53 percent overall, in routing NW Oklahoma State last time out. All five starters finished in double figures and six total for SHSU. Gilberto Clavell led the way with a huge game in the paint, finishing with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Lance Pevehouse followed with 15 points, while Antuan Bootle (12 pts), Josten Crow (11 pts), Nafis Richardson (11 pts) and Drae Murray (10 pts) were all heard from as well at the offensive end. Murray joined Clavell with a double-double of his own, dishing out 11 assists and turning the ball over just twice in 31 minutes of action. After just two games, Clavell (17.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Crow (16.0 ppg. 10.0 rpg) have proved to be a formidable tandem in the frontcourt. Pevehouse (11.0 ppg) has provided some perimeter balance.
The Longhorns certainly proved they belonged with the big boys at Madison Square Garden last week, as they took the fifth-ranked Panthers to the brink, before dropping a two-point affair. Sophomore Jordan Hamilton certainly had a strong outing, hitting five three-pointers en route to a career-high 28 points, while adding a team-high eight rebounds as well. J'Covan Brown finished with 14 points, while freshman Tristan Thompson chipped in with 11 points and six boards. Texas possesses an impressive young nucleus with Hamilton (24.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Thompson (15.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg) leading the way. Senior forward Gary Johnson (13.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) completes a potent frontcourt for the Longhorns. As a whole, Texas has shown the ability to dominate at both ends of the floor, boasting of a +16.5 scoring margin. The team is averaging 82.0 ppg on .460 shooting, while allowing just 65.5 on well under 40 percent accuracy from the field (.358).
These are two of the winningest programs in the state of Texas over the last few seasons, but that won't prevent Texas from winning a lopsided affair here. The Longhorns are much better than anticipated and should have little trouble getting Barnes his 500th career win at home tonight.