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AUSTIN, Texas — Like something out of Hunger Games, No. 11 Texas Men’s Basketball went full primal against No. 2 Gonzaga for an epic win 93-74 before a sold out Moody Center crowd of 11,313.
For the entire game, both teams played with poise and confidence like they were playing for the championship in March. Texas head coach Chris Beard has talked in the past about how the best players to ever play the sport of basketball are known for missing half their shots.
Interestingly, Texas missed half their shots.
Texas simply took that same formula the best players in basketball use and applied it to the entire team and then took more shots overall than Gonzaga did. Texas took 66 shots with exactly half those shots taken from three-point range. Overall, Texas made 52% of their two-point shots and 39% of their three-point shots.
In contrast, Gonzaga took 51 shots in total with only 19 from three-point range. Gonzaga actually shot better from three-point range than Texas (47%-39%), but only took a little more than half the shots from three-point range. Texas took a total 33 shots and Gonzaga 19 shots from three-point range.
This was not an error on Gonzaga’s part.
From the opening tip until the buzzer at the end of 40 minutes, Texas played relentless primal basketball and they never let up or gave Gonzaga an inch of breathing room. If Gonzaga was not from a college team, you would think they were professionals as they never looked flustered or worried. They played like they have been in these situations before, which they have many times.
Last year, Texas played Gonzaga on their home court and lost 86-74. Marcus Carr commented in postgame that they watched the film of last year’s game over and over throughout the year.
A glaring difference between this year and last year, other than Texas’ new Moody Center where fans and music are so loud you are sure police will show up to give UT a ticket for being too loud, is last year three players scored in double digits and this year four players scored double digits.
Tyrese Hunter had a career high 26 points that included five three-pointers, Marcus Carr hit 16 points, Dylan Disu put down 12 points, and Sir’Jabari Rice scored 11 points.
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Beard — Released the Kraken
With a minute and 28 seconds before the first half ended, Brock Cunningham went full primal — think of the song by Miley Cirus, “I Came In Like A Wrecking Ball”
Cunningham scored seven points in 57 seconds!
Half way through the first half, Beard puts Cunningham in, he gets a block then a defensive rebound. With 10 minutes left in the first half, Beard puts Cunningham on the bench. At the four minute eighteen second mark, Beard puts Brock back in.
A minute later Cunningham got a foul, then Cunningham positioned himself on the right just outside the three-point line and hit a three-pointer a minute later.
Some 39 seconds after that he sank a layup for two, 14 seconds after that Cunningham steals the ball and in four seconds makes a fast break layup for another two.
Oh wait, he’s not done yet …
The Texas graduate 6’6” 210 lb Forward Cunningham was tasked with guarding one of the best college players in the game, Gonzaga 6’10” 230 lb senior #2 Drew Timme who is from, interestingly, Richardson, Texas.
Timme dominates in the paint and against the boards. While guarding Timme, Cunningham was so fierce he caused Timme to travel as he was going for another shot at the boards. Gonzaga would have 20 turnovers on the night and Texas would go on to score 27 points off those turnovers.
The last minute charge from Cunningham gave Texas a shot of 5-Hour energy going into halftime and put them up by 10 points 47-37. Gonzaga never recovered.
We asked Tyrese Hunter during the postgame press conference about Cunningham going ‘full primal’ against Gonzaga before the half. Hunter responded, as Marcus Carr and Dylan Disu looked down and laughed, “It was big, but we expected it. That’s who Brock is. That’s the Brock we see every day. Ah, just showing his identity who he is, so that is just something we expected, it was big for us.”
Coach Beard stopped the press conference and announced, “Primal, #Primal. Texas Basketball #FullPrimal” Marcus Carr could not stop smiling. It was a great moment.
Texas’ bench continued to be instrumental, providing 29 points on the night. Texas also had eight steals, 17 assists, and held the lead for 31:46 minutes of the 40 minute game.
It will be interesting to see where Texas is ranked after this game.
Texas plays a couple games over the holidays, one at Gregory Gym on Nov. 26 (Sat) at 3 p.m. and then faces Creighton at Dec. 1 (Thu) at 6 p.m. at the Moody Center.
Texas Men’s Basketball #FullPrimal