The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: LSN. Home Record: Lamar 2-0, Texas 4-0. Away Record: Lamar 1-1, Texas 0-0. Neutral Record: Lamar 1-1, Texas 1-1. Conference Record: Lamar 0-0, Texas 0-0. Series Record: Texas leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The 19th-ranked Texas Longhorns finish up a three-game homestand this evening, as they welcome the Lamar Cardinals to Austin for a non- conference battle at the Frank Erwin Center.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns have certainly enjoyed some home cooking to begin the season, with four of their first six games coming in Austin. All four resulted in victory, including last weekend's 62-59 decision against a pesky Rice team. With the win, Texas moved to 5-1 on the year, with the lone loss coming by two points in the title game of the 2K Sports Classic to nationally-ranked Pittsburgh (68-66).
The Cardinals have proved to be a tough team as well to begin the new season, with four wins in their first six games. The team has strung together back-to- back wins coming into this contest, including a 118-69 whipping of St. Gregory's last weekend.
This is the fifth all-time meeting between these two teams, with Texas winning all four prior encounters, including the last one in 1995. Texas enters this contest with a 22-game homecourt winning streak against non-conference opponents.
The Cardinals are no average team in terms of offensive firepower. Lamar ranks among the nation's elite teams, putting up 96.0 ppg in the early going. The team has shot the ball well at .468 and there is plenty of scoring depth with four double-digit scorers. Juco transfer Mike James has made an immediate impact. He missed the first four games due to injury, but has come on strong in the last two, averaging 15.0 ppg. Charlie Harper is shooting over 55 percent from the floor and comes in at 13.0 ppg, followed by Brandon Davis and Kendrick Harris at 12.5 and 12.3 ppg, respectively. Lamar put on a clinic in its rout of St. Gregory's last time out, shooting .517 from the floor, outrebounding its foe by 18 boards and forcing an eye-popping 35 turnovers. Seven Cardinals finished in double figures in the win, led by Harper's 17 points. Anthony Miles added 15, followed by James' 14. Davis and Harris chimed in with 13 points apiece, while Orlando Brazier and Vincenzo Nelson chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Texas' offensive numbers aren't quite as gaudy, but they aren't bad either. The team is averaging nearly 80 points per outing and doing so on .468 shooting. The Longhorns are also playing tight defense, limiting foes to just 61.8 ppg on well under 40 percent shooting (.353). Sophomore swingman Jordan Hamilton has emerged as one of the Big 12's rising stars. The 6-7 youngster is off to a fast start this year, averaging 22.7 ppg, while grabbing 7.2 rpg. Freshman Tristan Thompson adds to the youth movement with 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while senior Gary Johnson (11.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) continues the strong play up front. Texas had a off game at the offensive end against Rice, hitting just over 40 percent from the floor, but the team did make 11 three- pointers in the narrow victory. Cory Joseph led the way with 14 points. Hamilton was just 4-of-13 from the field and finished with 13 points, while Thompson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
After recently earning his 500th career victory, Barnes goes for another milestone this evening, as a win would be his 300th at Texas. Expect the Longhorns to stifle the Cardinals in this one, while the young guns for UT get the job done at the offensive end.