07 Nov

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Jones triumphant return leads SportsCenter as Texas wins season opener

The Texas Men's Basketball team took home a 71-59 win at The Erwin Center Tuesday night (Photo courtesy of texassports.com).

AUSTIN, Texas — Even ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt was moved by the Texas Men’s Basketball team’s extremely special moment in their season-opener Tuesday night.

Van Pelt opened the evening SportsCenter show with his “Best Thing I Saw Today” featuring Longhorn junior guard Andrew Jones, who triumphantly returned from his battle with leukemia to play Tuesday.

Texas tantalized fans as it topped Eastern Illinois for a season-opening 71-59 win at The Erwin Center, but the moment that made everyone stand Tuesday night was Jones joyous return to the basketball court.

For the first time since he was diagnosed in January, Jones entered the game near the midpoint of the second half. The junior guard got nine minutes and scored on a free-throw while also logging a rebound, assist and a steal.

Leading the Longhorns, sophomore guard Matt Coleman III had a game-high 13 points and seven assists. In his first game on the Forty Acres, freshman forward Jaxson Hayes added 12 points.

Both teams started sluggish offensively in a back-and-forth first half that featured nine ties and 12 lead changes. Texas' pressure defense forced Eastern Illinois into 10 first-half turnovers, while holding the Panthers to just 28 points on 39 percent shooting.

Junior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long had the team lead in rebounds (6) and steals (3) while also pitching in six assists in 24 minutes during his debut for Texas.

The Longhorns ended the first half on a 15-3 run over the final 3:34 to take a 38-28 lead into the locker room. Texas' energy continued as the Longhorns started the second half on a 10-3 run over the first three minutes to build a 48-31 cushion. The lead grew to as much as 23 points (62-39) with 8:16 remaining in the contest.

Matt Coleman III led the Longhorns to a season-opening win Tuesday evening (Photo courtesy of texassports.com).

Now the Longhorns hit the road for Fort Bliss (El Paso, Texas) to play in the Armed Forces Classic against Arkansas on Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN.